Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BATTLE OF THE BANDS - CHRISTMAS VERSION X's 3



December First, and I’m back for another BATTLE OF THE BANDS. I enjoyed having a little break last time, but I did follow the BATTLE at Mr. McCarthy’s site closely. That was a fun time.

The best thing about BATTLE OF THE BANDS in December is…it’s time to use Christmas music. I love Christmas, and I absolutely adore most Christmas music.

If you were tuning in, back in October, and you saw my posting for Bish Denham’s ‘Listing Hop’, you might remember that one of my favorite movies (my number 6 favorite movie, to be exact) was a musical; Meet Me in St Louis, starring Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, and Mary Astor. In this movie Miss Garland introduced a song that has since become a Christmas favorite, covered by just about everybody; ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.

Here’s what Wacky-Watchee has to say about the tune:

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," a song written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, was introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics. In 2007, ASCAP ranked "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" the third most performed Christmas song during the preceding five years that had been written by ASCAP members.[

The song first appeared in a scene in Meet Me in St. Louis, in which a family is distraught by the father's plans to move to New York City for a job promotion, leaving behind their beloved home in St. Louis, Missouri, just before the long-anticipated 1904 World's Fair begins. In a scene set on Christmas Eve, Judy Garland's character, Esther, sings the song to cheer up her despondent five-year-old sister, Tootie, played by Margaret O'Brien.[6]

Some of the original lyrics that were penned by Martin were rejected before filming began. They were: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas / It may be your last/ Next year we may all be living in the past / Have yourself a merry little Christmas / Pop that champagne cork / Next year we may all be living in New York."[7] When presented with the original draft lyric, Garland, her co-star Tom Drake and director Vincente Minnelli criticized the song as depressing, and asked Martin to change the lyrics.[2] Though he initially resisted, Martin made several changes to make the song more upbeat. For example, the lines "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past" became "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight".[2] Garland's version of the song, which was also released as a single by Decca Records, became popular among United States troops serving in World War II; her performance at the Hollywood Canteen brought many soldiers to tears.[8]

This tune was used in another movie that had an impact on me. I’ll let Wacky Wattchee tell you about that one also.

Frank Sinatra's version, backed by popular Hollywood arranger Gus Levene and his orchestra,[13] was controversially used by director Carl Foreman in his 1963 anti-war film The Victors as the soundtrack backdrop (along with the carol "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing") to the execution by firing squad of a G.I. deserter in a bleak, snowy field on Christmas Eve – a scene inspired by the real-life execution of Pvt. Eddie Slovik in 1945. The New York Times film reviewer, while recognising the power of the scene, complained that "the device itself is almost as specious and sentimental as what [Foreman] is trying to mock".[14]
  
Yeah, that one was not a happy version, but none the less it had enough of an impact on me that I distinctly remember it, and the movie.

Anyway, for the purposes of this BATTLE I want to use the version by Judy Garland. Here it is as seen in the movie ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’


Next up is someone who has recorded a ton of Christmas songs, Mr. Johnny Mathis. Here’s his version of ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.


Now it’s up to you. Who do you like better, Judy or Johnny.Try not to let the videos sway your vote. (I know it might be hard to resist the movie clip, but remember we're voting on the song.) Please cast your vote in the comment section and tell me why.

Once you finish up here head on over to the home of Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy, where you can enjoy his BATTLE and vote. Find STMcC HERE He will provide links to the other participants this time around. Please try to visit everyone and cast a vote.

I’ll be back on the 7th to cast my vote, and give you the final tally. Until that time… Happy Trails!

46 comments:

  1. Johny wins for me, just like him more at my sea.

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    1. OK Pat, got you down as the first vote and the first vote for Johnny.

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  2. Do you see the time I'm posting this?
    Having coffee just before leaving for work.
    Allah's Unholy Trousers! What has happened to my life?!

    I can't believe you're using JUDY's version in this Battle. Even after I told you I would vote for JUDY over Karen Carpenter on this song? OKaaaaaaaay. Yer beggin' for one. (Although I see that Pat has immediately kept it from Shutoutland. Yer lucky, FAE. Mighty lucky.)

    Johnny does a fabulous version of this song (I own it on CD, as well as Karen's cover) and a Battle between him and Miss Carpenter would have been a toughie for me.

    Yak again... as soon as I quit this latest job. (Gimme about a week.)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

    POSTSCRIPT: I love, Love, LOVE this song. But it's still sad as hell. If they thought changing a couple lines o' lyric kept it from being sad, they needed to have their heads examined.

    FAE, have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

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    1. More than lucky, eh? It's currently all tied up. Course, a few days ago I was shocked at how things were going, so anything could happen before the final call on the 7th.

      I agree this song is sad. Always, Always, ALWAYS bring at least one tear to my eye and sometimes, depending on my general mood, I'm downright sobbing when I listen.

      Johnny's version is great, I like it a lot, But...I better not say more. I didn't put Judy against Karen because I thought both were great but way too similar. At least with Johnny there is some contrast. Male vs female, at the very least.

      Looks like you're going to make it more than a week, but I admit I don't know how. Those hours are killer. Take it easy, when you can; tiger!

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  3. Very interesting background on this song! This is really a tough one because both do a fabulous job and though I hate to vote against the great Judy Garland, I'm going with Johnny Mathis on this one.
    Great battle Fae!
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this BATTLE Michele. I think Judy will forgive you. Both versions are really very good IMO. Got you down as another vote for Johnny.

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  4. This is tough for me too, as I like both artists. I must go find this movie. I don't recall seeing it.

    In the end I vote for Johnny; somehow his seemed a little more cheerful.

    Hope we all can have a Merry little Christmas! Good song!

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    1. Definitely see 'Meet Me in St. Louis' it is great. I think you'll enjoy every minute of it.

      The song is sad and Johnny does make it a little more cheerful, that just seems to be his style.

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  5. I've never even heard of The Victors but I've certainly seen Meet Me in St Louis and agree that it is a fine film.

    Between the versions you offer-it is a tough choice--I think I'm going to go with the softer sweeter sound of Judy Garland. She gives the song a touch that seems more appropriate.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


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    1. Finally, another vote for Judy. And I was afraid using the video with the clip from the movie was going to give her an unfair advantage, as in who could resist it. Maybe it just made it all the more sad. I dunno.

      The Victors was a war film intended to be anti-war (it's my opinion that all of them turn out that way, when you think about it). The scene where they used this song is sadder than sad, so I'm not really recommending it, but it did have an impact on me.

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  6. I guess I've never listened to this song before. That is a bit crazy since I know all of the lyrics, but I never thought of it as sad until now. When you know the history of the song and hear the words in that context... it's sad. When you think of troops hearing this song and crying, it's sad. When you're right where you want to be and your heart is light... well, than it's A-Okay.

    I really love Johnny Mathis and I think my mom owned that Christmas album of his... because we got a lot of Johnny Mathis at Christmas (which was fantastic). His voice is so darn smooth that I don't feel sad listening to his version of the song. I'm afraid that movie clip was SAD SAD SAD. Ms. Judy Garland gave a stellar performance... making me feel SAD. I'm still suffering from a doozy of a migraine and can't take that kind of sad. So, I'm going with the happier version by Mr. Johnny Mathis.

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    1. I think that hearing it in context with all of the background, makes it more sad ( you did say that).

      IMO, both versions here are great (I don't think I've heard one that I don't like somewhat), but I agree that Johnny does seem to make it a bit more cheerful. Judy's, in the context of the movie, brings that sadness to a whole new level. And here I thought using this version with the movie clip would give her an unfair advantage. So far, it looks like it worked just the opposite.

      Just goes to show how unpredictable BOTB can be, eh?

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  7. Dear FAE (with the mystery smile) -

    This is one of the great Christmas songs, and I always like hearing it done by almost anybody.

    The Judy Garland version wins this one handily to my ears. Although Johnny M. may win an occasional battle with me (as it did recently at Dixie's BOTB), he is NOT a singer that I really like much. He hits the notes on key, but his voice is just plain weird... in terms of singing technique. The one Christmas classic that he would win in any battle against anyone for me is "Sleigh Ride."

    Thanks for an early in the season Christmas battle.

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    1. Mystery or not, your comment made me smile, and today I needed that.

      Glad you enjoyed the BATTLE and Judy's version in particular. If you had the time and read some of my other replies, you'll note that I thought using the movie clip from 'Meet Me in St. Louis' would give her an unfair advantage, but it seems it has actually worked the opposite.

      Christmas is such a joyous time that I think we can also easily jump off that nostalgic cliff that brings about great sadness. The context of the movie was sad, the time that it was released was one of great sadness in the world, and Judy puts so much emotion into it, it's hard not to succumb.

      Johnny's version is more cheerful and I admit that seems a tad bit off to me with this song. But, I agree with you about 'Sleigh Ride', he owns that one.

      Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by here. I do truly appreciate it and although there will still me more time (and I know that I own you and email) I do hope you and yours have a 'Merry Little Christmas'.

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  8. Ugh... I can't believe I'm voting against Judy Garland. The thing is, without the context of the film's scene, it's easier to ignore the sad parts :) In my opinion, Judy's voice can't be beat... But, when it comes to Christmas music, I judge on the basis of what makes me tear up less, haha.

    Another vote for Johnny. (Can you ever forgive me, Judy?)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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    1. Well voting on what makes you 'tear up less', is as good a reason as any. I bet Judy will forgive you, for your vote for Johnny, after all even she should admit his is a fine cover of a beautiful song.

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  9. Surprising myself as well, I'll take Johnny on this one.

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    1. Surprised me too CW, as you can see so far Johnny is leading. and to think this was predicted to be a shut out.

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  10. Fae, oh two beautiful covers of a real classic Christmas song! Judy Garland does a fabulous, fabulous job and my how lovely she looks in this scene, but then I always thought she was a beautiful woman. The thing is you put Judy up against Johnny Mathis and he's really super hard to beat period. I just love Johnny's smooth vocals, not that Judy's voices aren't silk as satin, but I just prefer Mathis to Garland. Please give my vote to Johnny and have yourself a very Merry Christmas, my friend!

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    1. I'm a little surprised that you're the first to mention how beautiful Judy looks in this film. I agree that she was lovely, but she really looked her best in 'Meet Me in St. Louis' IMO.

      BUT, you don't win on looks alone and I have counted your vote for Johnny.

      You too have a very Merry Little Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

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  11. Not a Mathis fan, but I liked his version better.

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    1. Well you don't have to be a fan to give you vote to a contender here. Thanks Alex for stopping by.

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  12. I have to vote for Judy because she's Judy, but I like Johnny Mathis. But Judy is Judy is Judy.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Good enough reason Janie. I thank you for the vote and I'm sure Judy does too.

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  13. I am not a Mathis fan but he does a good job on this song but this song belongs to Judy. Her voice is tremendous and considering the lyrics, she gets my vote hands down because it was written when war was raging. She gives that beauty that some men may not see Christmas again. She sings from the heart-she gets my vote hands down

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    1. Finally, Judy is making a come back and this is turning into a real horse race. Thank you Birgit, I couldn't have said it better myself.

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  14. I like both versions of the song and also remember the movie well. Hard to decide, but i think I'll have to go with Judy. She sings it with such feeling and the backstory is so poignant.

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    1. Thanks Debbie. See my comment to Birgit, it goes for you too.

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  15. Ain't nothing like the original. Judy Garland.

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    1. AND, Judy is back in the running. Thanks John.

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  16. I like the Mathis version best. Mostly because it's a happier song and fits best with the current concept of the song.
    However, that being said. I loved the little girls Snowman Slaughter.
    I wish to nominate her for the "Do You Want To Kill A Snowman" award.

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    1. Interesting vote here, Jeffrey. Got you down as a vote for Johnny in BOTB, and the first one for Margaret O'Brien in 'Do You Want To Kill a Snowman'. Ha, ha, ha.

      As a side note she played an interesting kid in the move who was kind of obsessed with death ( I guess a lot of kids are at a certain age). There is a scene where she talks about all her dolls that are buried in the backyard and how she want to dig them up and take them to New York with the family.

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    2. Yes, I caught that reference in the clip. She said she wanted to bring all her dolls. Even the dead ones. LOL

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  17. I love Christmas music. As a kid, I think we listened to it all through the month of December. I never complained about any of it.

    This is a beautiful song, and no doubt, Judy is one of the most beautiful women of any age. I love Johnny's voice, and his musical arrangement too.

    Because my Dad (who loved Christmas time more any any other time of year, and more for the music than gift giving) would have surely voted for Judy - yes, mostly because she was his ideal beautiful woman - I'll vote for Judy.

    Unless, I can give Judy one vote for my Dad, and Johnny one vote for me?

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    1. As you know blogger hates me, so it wiped out your comment when I was tying to reply. I remember that you voted for Judy, but would like to cast two votes (You for Johnny and your Dad for Judy). That would be Chicago style voting and I simply can't allow it, besides St. Mac would give me a hard time if I did. Ha, ha, ha.

      got you down as a vote for Judy, even though as of now, you and I are the only ones who know for sure. Maybe blogger will bring your comment back and maybe not. Who knows?

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  18. I gotta go with Judy, hands down. It's the context of the song that makes it's so powerful. It's not supposed to be a really happy song, hopeful perhaps, but not happy. Johnny is too... orchestrated, too smooth.

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    1. Ah, Bish, thank you for this comment. I really couldn't put my finger on this song, it is sad but not without HOPE. Judy it is, for you.

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  19. For me, Judy owned this one. My cohort picks Mathis without question. Still a good version, though, so I can't hold that against him. Great battle you've got here, and looking forward to a whole month of Christmas music! ... Well, until I get sick of it. :)

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    1. A split decision, eh? Well even though you guys sort of cancel each other out, I do appreciate you both. Glad you enjoyed the BATTLE and the Christmas music. Unfortunately, I never get sick of it, so expect some more on the 15th and maybe even some inbetween.

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  20. I enjoy both versions, but I think my vote is going to go to Mr Mathis. Good battle!

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  21. Thanks Mary, I haven't seen you in awhile and was wondering if you dropped out of BOTB. I'll stop by and check out your BATTLE shortly. Another vote for Johnny.

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  22. Happy Holidays I like Judy's version the best

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  23. My buddy, forgive the delay! I'm battling my body (particularly lungs) these past weeks and trying to catch up.

    Judy Garland s like an angel singing this song. Her face looks so serene. Lovely version.

    But...here's JOHNNY! I love the Mathis version, too. This is a tie in my mind, seriously; but I KNOW that is a no-no.

    My vote goes to judymathis.... johnnygarland...decisons, decisions...maybe I should come back later.

    Arghhhh...MATHIS IT IS. That was hard. Great battle; I even battled myself.



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    1. "But... Here's JOHNNY!"

      Ha! That was an A-list comment, DOC CHERDO!

      How about JUDYJOHNNY? You didn't try that combination, and I think it works well. :o)

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    2. No problem with any delay, voting stays open until whatever time on the 7th I make the final count. Only just finished making the rounds myself.

      Heard you weren't feeling too well. Take care of yourself, it's no fun being sick and worse during the holidays.

      And, another vote for Johnny. I'm glad it was so difficult for you to decide. It's my opinion that's the sign of a good BATTLE.

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