Allison Russell has released a new holiday single featuring two versions of the classic Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane composition “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” She performs the song in English and in a French translation.
The song was written for the then-new musical Meet Me in St. Louis, and originally sung by Judy Garland, accompanied by Georgie Stoll and his Orchestra. It’s been covered hundreds upon hundreds of times, initially in 1948 by Frank Sinatra and then by almost every major entertainer imaginable, from Ella Fitzgerald to Glen Campbell and from Tony Bennett to Michael Bublé. Read the surprising story behind the song here.
“I consider myself a hopeful agnostic,” says Russell, “but Christmas has always loomed large in my world. As a child of an abusive, dysfunctional and deeply impoverished family, holidays were always harrowing and fraught. Christmas in particular set all the skeletons in our family’s closet to cavorting.
“The brightest light of my difficult childhood was my maternal Grandmother, Isobel Roger Robertson. Every year we would watch Meet Me in St. Louis together and neither of us could get through Judy Garland singing ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ without crying.
“I’ve always felt that this song resonates on a deeper level and speaks to the feelings of grief, loss, melancholy, separation and isolation that many of us carry through the holidays,” she goes on. “But it also speaks of hope…early onset Alzheimer’s took my Grandma Isobel too soon but I find myself carrying on many of her traditions.
“‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ is now a favorite of my daughter’s. During the lockdown days of the pandemic I started teaching my daughter French. I decided to translate ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ as a challenge for myself and an encouragement for her to keep going with her studies.
“It’s a timeless melody and I hope I’ve done the poetry some justice,” she concludes. “Here’s wishing you and yours love & health & peace & happiness through hard times and good x”
Russell’s Outside Child has been named Best Americana Album by Nashville Scene and she received a nomination as Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Honors & Awards 2021. She’s currently touring with Lake Street Dive and has her own headline dates this month and next in Nashville, Chicago, Grand Rapids.
Buy or stream Allison Russell’s Outside Child.