"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is a song introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics, which has become more common than the original. The song was credited to Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane, although during a December 21, 2006 NPR interview, Martin said that Blane had encouraged him to write the song but had not had anything more to do with writing it. In 2007, ASCAP ranked "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" the third most performed Christmas song written by ASCAP members of the past five years.
The song was written while Martin was vacationing in a house in Birmingham, Alabama, that his father Hugh Martin designed for his mother as a honeymoon cottage. The house was located in the Southside section of the city, across the street from Hugh's mother and right beside her aunt. 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 Louisiana Purchase Exposition 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.
In 1957, Frank Sinatra asked 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?" Martin's new line, "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough," has since become more widely recognized and sung than the original phrase. Martin made several other alterations, changing the song's focus to a celebration of present happiness, rather than anticipation of a better future.
Although the 1957 rewrite is the most familiar to listeners today, the Judy Garland lyrics have been recorded by a number of artists, for example Ella Fitzgerald (in Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas), and James Taylor. Quiet Company recorded the song most recently for the 2007 release of Peace on Earth: A Holiday Album. The album was made available for download directly from the web. All proceeds from sales went to Toys for Tots charity. Greg London's success as a pop music artist began during the 2008 holiday season, when his rendition of the song debuted as the #2 most added track on FMQB's AC40 Chart and Radio & Records Adult Contemporary chart during the same week."