Here is Bette Midler’s recording of “Merry Christmas” from her jaunty 2006 holiday recording Cool Yule. Leave it to Bette and co-producer Barry Manilow to unearth one of the hidden gems in the MGM vaults. “Merry Christmas” was written specifically for Judy Garland’s penultimate MGM film, 1949’s In The Good Old Summertime. (Serious pink wedge trivia alert: In The Good Old Summertime was a musical remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s brilliant 1940 film The Shop Around The Corner, which starred Jimmy Stewart, which was based on a play called Parfumerie written by Micklos Laszlo. The same story was remade by Nora Ephron in 1998 as You’ve Got Mail. Parfumerie was also the basis of the Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick musical She Loves Me. Got that?)
If the world were fair and just, “Merry Christmas,” so memorably performed in the film by Judy Garland with her customary excellence, would have joined the singer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas—introduced a few years before in Meet Me in St. Louis—as a holiday standard. The song’s music was written by Fred Spielman with lyrics by Janice Torre. The pair also wrote Paper Roses, which is not nearly as a good a song as Merry Christmas, which didn’t stop it from being a Top-10 hit twice, first for infamous homophobe Anita Bryant in 1960, and then again for an adolescent Marie Osmond in 1973.
12 Holiday Songs…is part of a series. To read them in order: Day One, Sara Bareilles’ Love is Christmas