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I'll Be Home for Christmas

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Title: I'll Be Home for Christmas  
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Subject: We Need a Little Christmas (album), Bing Crosby, Wrapped in Red, Underneath the Tree, Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra song)
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I'll Be Home for Christmas

The original 1943 release by Bing Crosby on Decca, 18570A.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a Christmas song recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby who scored a top ten hit with the song. Originally written to honor soldiers overseas who have longed to be home for Christmastime, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has since gone on to become a Christmas standard.[1]


The song is sung from the point of view of an overseas soldier during WWII, writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells the family that he will be coming home, and to prepare the holiday for him including requests for "snow", "mistletoe", and "presents on the tree". The song ends on a melancholy note, with the soldier saying "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams."[2] Gannon claimed on at least one occasion that he was not thinking of the soldiers when he wrote the lyrics but of all people who are unable to be home for Christmas. When he pitched the song to people in the music business, they turned it down because the last line quoted above was too sad for all those separated from their loved ones in the military. When playing golf with Bing Crosby, however, Gannon sang the song for Crosby, who decided to record it. It ended up as the flip side of "White Christmas," ensuring that it would be a hit. [3]

Writing and copyright

The song was written by the lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. Buck Ram, who previously wrote a poem and song with the same title, was credited as a co-writer of the song following a lawsuit.[4] The original 1943 release of the song by Bing Crosby on Decca Records listed only Walter Kent and Kim Gannon as the songwriters on the record label. Later pressings added the name of Buck Ram to the songwriting credit.

Bing Crosby recording

On October 4, 1943, Crosby recorded the song under the title "I'll Be Home For Christmas (If Only In My Dreams)" with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca Records, which was released as a 78 single, Decca 18570A, Matrix #L3203, reissued in 1946 as Decca 23779. Within a month of release, the song charted for eleven weeks, with a peak at number three. The next year, the song reached number nineteen on the charts.

The U.S. War Department also released Bing Crosby's performance of "I'll Be Home For Christmas" from the December 7, 1944, Kraft Music Hall broadcast with the Henderson Choir, J.S.T., on V-Disc, as U.S. Army V-Disc No. 441-B and U.S. Navy V-Disc No. 221B, Matrix #VP1253-D5TC206.[5][6] The song from the broadcast has appeared through many Bing Crosby compilations.

The song touched the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were in the midst of World War II, and it earned Crosby his fifth gold record. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" became the most requested song at Christmas U.S.O. shows. Yank, the GI magazine, said Crosby "accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era".

1945 V-Disc release by the U.S. Army of "White Christmas" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Bing Crosby as No. 441B.

Despite the song's popularity with Americans at the front and at home, in the UK the BBC banned the song from broadcast, as the Corporation's management felt that the lyrics might lower morale among British troops.[7]

Notable history

In December 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell while on Gemini 7 requested "I'll Be Home for Christmas" be played for them by the NASA ground crew.

Other recordings

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" was recorded by Perry Como (1946), Frank Sinatra (1957), Sara Evans (Hear Something Country - Christmas 2007, 2007),[8] Kelly Clarkson (iTunes Session & Wrapped in Red)[9] and many other artists.[10] These artists include:


1 Peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart in December 2012[11] and peaked at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 2011.[12]
2 Spent three weeks atop the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart in January 2008[13] and peaked at number 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 2006.[12]


  1. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document " I'll be home for Christmas [Song Collection]".
  2. ^ Collins, Ace (2010-05-04). Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas.  
  3. ^ As told by Kim Gannon at a small dinner party at which the editor was present.
  4. ^ The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs -
  5. ^ Bing Crosby's V-Discs.
  6. ^ A Bing Crosby Discography. Part 1d - The "V" Discs.
  7. ^ Rodriguez McRobbie, Linda (18 April 2013). "11 Reasons the BBC Has Banned Hit Songs".  
  8. ^ "Sara Evans, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ – Song Review". Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Kelly Clarkson, ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ – Song Review". Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  10. ^ I'll Be Home For Christmas: Second Hand Songs.
  11. ^ American Idol' on the Charts: The Top 20 Christmas Songs by Finalists"'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved Ausgut 24, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Weekly Chart Notes: 'Glee,' Zac Brown Band, Kelly Clarkson". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved Ausgut 24, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Adult Contemporary: January 5, 2008". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 


  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document " I'll be home for Christmas [Song Collection]".
  • Ewen, David, ed. American popular songs from the Revolutionary War to the present. New York: Random House, 1966. Call number: ML128 .N3 E9.
  • Whitburn, Joel. Joel Whitburn's pop hits, 1940-1954: compiled from Billboard's pop singles charts 1940-1954. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, 1994. Call number: ML156.4 .P6 W495 1994.

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