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Christmas Portrait Redux update?

Thanks much for posting that Harry - it's been a while since I last saw it - great movie, touching scene, beautiful song, heartfelt vocal. Her performance of the song was the best, from it's appearance in that movie in 1944 - until 1978...

Other outstanding songs in the movie were the title track MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE TROLLEY SONG and THE BOY NEXT DOOR, which I first heard by Frank Sinatra as THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.
 
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The lyrics were changed at some point from "we'll have to muddle through somehow" to "hang a shinning star upon the highest bough"...

Can't have the word "muddle" in an otherwise great song!
 
I am in the group that likes Carpenters version of Have Yourself and in the spirit of this festive and ongoing conversation, I am appreciating that some like it and others not so much and got to wondering why it was Karen’s favorite out of all the CP sessions.

I have re-listened to this song every which way I can. I listened to the original LP, the Christmas Collection CD, both on independent systems. I listened to it streaming from various platforms, via the Special Edition digital version which is commonly heard on Spotify and iHeart and the radio stations. I listened on my phone by itself and through the modest (yet amazing) DAC on my streamers. I’ve listened to it on Air Pods and my MacBook (no external DAC).

I think some of what we hear on Have Yourself has a bit to do with the loudness/amplitude/high and low frequency settings on our different playbacks. Overall, I think Richard (associate produced by Karen) did a really good job with amplification. I do notice subtle differences on different playbacks.

Ultimately, I listened to it on the West German CP through monitor headphones on an integrated amplifier and that is when I realize that it is not about the orchestral arrangement at all to me. What really blows me away is the vocal. Karen has never more hallmark. Have Yourself has every nuance of what made Karen so distinctive. The ever so slightly delayed delivery yet slightly ahead of the choir, the purposeful phrasing/disciplined breath control, roaming the octave(s) effortlessly, possibly peak use of vibrato at this point of her career, her signature diction, and the familiar resonance, all make this recording a standout to me.

Added note: Recently I have been hearing the Dolby Atmos/new mix version through platforms that have encoded the DA version, mainly just because it’s new and Karen’s vocal is way out in front which separates it from files that are not in object-based audio formats. I’m not especially sold that this the best way to listen to this song, other than I do use a DA capable Speaker to enjoy what it has to offer. I would be anxious to hear it on a physical format. Google and Samsung are also working on 3D audio technology, so this is evolving. Stay tuned.
 
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Ultimately, I listened to it on the West German CP through monitor headphones on an integrated amplifier and that is when I realize that it is not about the orchestral arrangement at all to me. What really blows me away is the vocal. Karen has never more hallmark. Have Yourself has every nuance of what made Karen so distinctive. The ever so slightly delayed delivery yet slightly ahead of the choir, the purposeful phrasing/disciplined breath control, roaming the octave(s) effortlessly, possibly peak use of vibrato at this point of her career, her signature diction, and the familiar resonance, all make this recording a standout to me.

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I agree fully, totally, completely and whole-heartedly with what you say here - everything else, I'm clueless about and will need lots of simple pictures and diagrams :)
 
Okay, so I’ll be totally honest - I had never heard the C’s version of HYAMLC before today, so I just listened to it for the first time. Overall, I also like it. I do think that the orchestral arrangement is a little weak - doesn’t really have as much variety in the string movements, but the mix as a whole sounds pretty well balanced to me. The strings are maybe a little louder than on other recordings, but they still sound in the background to my ears. I also agree with some people that I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites from CP, but I’ll still add it to my Spotify Christmas playlist. :)

I also agree that changing the “muddle through” lyric was a good choice. Honestly, I can’t think of any other versions besides Crosby’s that have it. Must have been shortly after that it was changed.
 
I also agree that changing the “muddle through” lyric was a good choice. Honestly, I can’t think of any other versions besides Crosby’s that have it. Must have been shortly after that it was changed.

According to an article I found, it was changed at the request of Frank Sinatra. The song originally accompanies a sad scene in the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis," and as originally written, it was a very sad song, including the opening lines:

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

From Wikipedia:

The song first appeared in a scene 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.

Some of the original lyrics penned by songwriter Hugh Martin were rejected before filming began. 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. 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". 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.

In 1957, when Frank Sinatra approached Martin to record the song, he asked him to revise the lyrics to promote more positive themes; he particularly pointed out the line "until then we'll have to muddle through somehow," saying "the name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?" Martin's revised lyric was "hang a shining star upon the highest bough." Martin made several other alterations, changing from the future tense to the present, so that the song's focus is a celebration of present happiness rather than anticipation of a better future.
 
...What really blows me away is the vocal. Karen has never more hallmark. Have Yourself has every nuance of what made Karen so distinctive. The ever so slightly delayed delivery yet slightly ahead of the choir, the purposeful phrasing/disciplined breath control, roaming the octave(s) effortlessly, possibly peak use of vibrato at this point of her career, her signature diction, and the familiar resonance, all make this recording a standout to me.

Such a great description of her qualities on the song, Nemily!
One of the moments that stands out to me early in the piece, is the first time she sings the lyric "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" in her conversational style. She starts so intimately with that line and with the word 'Christmas'. She's sounds reflective while she's giving us tender advice.
 
One of the moments that stands out to me early in the piece, is the first time she sings the lyric "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" in her conversational style. She starts so intimately with that line and with the word 'Christmas'. She's sounds reflective while she's giving us tender advice.
Pretty nice description yourself!

There are so many outstanding features of her performance of this song that it's hard to know where to start...

For one thing is the obvious: if this is one of her best recorded vocal performances then that in itself is saying a hell of a lot - volumes, as they say - because as we all know she had so many really good ones...

For another, if this was her favorite on CP then that too says a great deal since she was probably her own toughest critic, demanding her own best on every recording...if we are thrilled with it she was intensely proud of it, and rightly so...would love to have been there with her in the studio listening to the initial playback...

For yet another thing: this may be the best song to hear Karen's lovely vibrato at length & in depth thanks to how well she nails & holds the longer phrase-ending notes "away" and "bough" and "now" as they occur in the song...

More personally, this is a "movie song" which means it could just as easily been a "show tune", and in my wild imagination I can picture Karen at center stage under a single spotlight belting this out and stopping the show to a standing ovation. I might have been the first one out of my seat yelling "Bravo, Encore!"
 
According to an article I found, it was changed at the request of Frank Sinatra. The song originally accompanies a sad scene in the movie "Meet Me In St. Louis," and as originally written, it was a very sad song, including the opening lines:

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

From Wikipedia:

The song first appeared in a scene 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.

Some of the original lyrics penned by songwriter Hugh Martin were rejected before filming began. 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. 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". 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.

In 1957, when Frank Sinatra approached Martin to record the song, he asked him to revise the lyrics to promote more positive themes; he particularly pointed out the line "until then we'll have to muddle through somehow," saying "the name of my album is A Jolly Christmas. Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?" Martin's revised lyric was "hang a shining star upon the highest bough." Martin made several other alterations, changing from the future tense to the present, so that the song's focus is a celebration of present happiness rather than anticipation of a better future.
And yet they keep the 'we'll meet again when we're all dead' ("We all will be together if the fates allow") or am I not interpreting the lyric correctly?
 
And yet they keep the 'we'll meet again when we're all dead' ("We all will be together if the fates allow") or am I not interpreting the lyric correctly?

I always took the line as meaning we'll be together as long as we're alive and able, and yes, it speaks to being parted from those that go before us through death. Another element in the song that gives it the bittersweet quality.
 
I always took the line as meaning we'll be together as long as we're alive and able, and yes, it speaks to being parted from those that go before us through death. Another element in the song that gives it the bittersweet quality.
I should dive more deeply into lyrics. Until the past year, I thought "Do You Hear What I Hear" was about Santa Claus.
 
I always took the line as meaning we'll be together as long as we're alive and able, and yes, it speaks to being parted from those that go before us through death. Another element in the song that gives it the bittersweet quality.
Yes, alive and able - but unable could mean death, or it could just mean impossible to get together because of illness, or separation by very long distance, or having a family or personal feud, or travel problems due to weather conditions (deep snow, etc.), or any number of other reasons - all of which are controlled by actions or decisions of those unpredictable "fates" or gods...
 
Yes, alive and able - but unable could mean death, or it could just mean impossible to get together because of illness, or separation by very long distance, or having a family or personal feud, or travel problems due to weather conditions (deep snow, etc.), or any number of other reasons - all of which are controlled by actions or decisions of those unpredictable "fates" or gods...
Perfectly stated! Thanks. As you said, there are many reasons as to why people aren't or can't be together anymore. You explained the lyric well.
Whenever I hear that lyric I think of my parents that are passed on and how our gatherings have changed because of people moving on, etc. when compared to years ago.
 
Does anyone know when Christmas music has to be completed and ready for a Oct/Nov release?

I’m wondering if this Redux will be Christmas Portrait with the RPO and one of the reasons Richard is touring the UK is to put final touches on this new release while over there?
 
So will this include any previously unreleased material, or is it just a touch-up of the full original CP album (or both?) My guess is the latter, because the reason Richard had to include so much orchestral music on AOFC was that there weren’t many work leads left.

Either way, I’m stoked for this. I’m sure Richard knows that this release is something we’re all really happy about.
 
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