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A rock nyc Christmas Playlist #5 – Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” Reviewed

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past…”

That’s the couplet Judy Garland refused to sing to a tearful , five year old Margaret O’Brien in the Vincent Minelli musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”. The year in the movie is 1904, circa the World’s fair, outside the stage door it was 1944 and the end of the Second World War was not yet secured. The song is filled with a tender sadness, a melancholy, and Judy sounds as though she is crying in tune to the music.

The song is about not being together during Christmastime, it is about coming together and muddling through somehow till we can and it should be the Christmas song for the pandemic. Indeed, for the first time since 1944 it calls out to us across the years as we live in isolation. There is no way round the sorrow except for with hope, and as torn apart as the sisters are, there is the joy of comforting those we love.

We look back at the 24 year old Garland with a mix of awe, reverance, and pain, we know what she doesn’t know we know: we know how impossible happiness was for ythe bruised superstar, abused by the motion picture industry. We know what the fates won’t allow for Judy and the poignancy is unbearable.

The times we live in are hard to imagine, certainly the composer and lyricist Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane couldn’t have known it,  but there vision of a world where we are apart from those we love resonate more than ever. 2020 is a year where the world was torn asunder and yet Judy, certainly one of the greatest singers of the 20th century, is there comforting her young sister Tootsie and comforting outside in the real world, families missing families at war half way across the world with the uncertainty of violence, and again singing directly to us, cradling us with love and concern because we all revert to childhood in 2020, we all exist in a personal vacuum pod and only the hope of next year can save us as we muddle through. The world is on the brink of a second Great Depressions, people are dying in their millions across the globe and we need Judy to hold out hope for us. The couplet I opened this review was revised to:

“Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight”

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now…

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