Wednesday, December 21, 2011

song of the week 40: frank sinatra - have yourself a merry little christmas

I've heard a few grim old versions of this song in the last week or so.

First up against the wall is My Morning Jacket whose half-soaked wheeze sounds like they didn't even get out of bed to record it. Chris Martin has learnt a couple of new jazzy chords which he can't really shoe-horn into the usual Coldplay oeuvre but which godammit he's going to bang out here even if they don't quite fit in. We wouldn't expect much of Kenny G but his version is perhaps not as bad as it might be. Michael Bublé over-eggs it a bit with those gushing strings but then we never did like him. And Lord save us from Christina Aguilera whose yelpy melismania is almost the polar opposite of the My Morning Jacket version but just as unlistenable.

Why not just content ourselves with this more thoughtful version from a bloke from New Jersey who could carry a tune or two and from a time (1957) when the song's overfamiliarity hadn't yet bred contempt:

(Also recommended: Judy Garland's original version from the 1944 film Meet Me in St Louis.)


Cocktails said...

I think this is song is best left alone. As is the film. I saw Meet me at St Louis last week at the NFT and had forgotten just how tiresomely saccherine it is. It's funny too how everyone seems to miss the fact that this is actually a sad and miserably ironic song.

Cocktails said...

Except Frank obviously! I'm afraid that I'm not going to listen to Christine's version.

And have a merry christmas too!

Hoops Hooley said...

Good point about it being a miserable song in the film. It does tend to get trotted out unthinkingly particularly by the kind of artists who don't have an original thought to express at this time of year.

Don't know if you saw the Wikipedia entry? "In 1957, Frank Sinatra asked [songwriter Hugh] Martin to revise the line 'Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow'. He told Martin, 'The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?'"

No flies on Frank...