I'll Be Home for Christmas

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The original 1943 release by Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra on Decca, 18570A

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a Christmas song written by the lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent and recorded in 1943 by Bing Crosby, who scored a top ten hit with the song. Originally written to honor soldiers overseas who longed to be home at Christmas time, "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 a soldier stationed overseas during World War II, writing a letter to his family. In the message, he tells the family he will be coming home and to prepare the holiday for him, and requests 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] The flip side of the original recording (Decca 18570B) was "Danny Boy" [3]

Writing and copyright[edit]

The song was written by the lyricist Kim Gannon and composer Walter Kent. Songwriter and later producer and manager for The Platters, Buck Ram, who said he previously wrote a poem and song with the same title, was credited as a co-writer of the song following a lawsuit brought by Ram's publisher, Mills Music.[4] Bing Crosby's original 1943 release of the song 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[edit]

On October 1, 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;[5] it was released as a 78 rpm single, Decca 18570A, Matrix #L3203, and reissued in 1946 as Decca 23779. Within a month of release, the song charted for 11 weeks, with a peak at number three; the next year, the song reached number 16 on the charts.[6]

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[7] 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.[8] The song from the broadcast has appeared in many Bing Crosby compilations.

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

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 the lyrics might lower morale among British troops.[9]

Notable history[edit]

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.[10]

Other recordings[edit]

"I'll Be Home for Christmas" was recorded by Perry Como (1946), Frank Sinatra (1957), Elvis Presley (1957), Johnny Mathis (1958), Connie Francis (1959), Jack Jones (1963), The Beach Boys for The Beach Boys' Christmas Album (1964), The Carpenters (1977), Anita Baker (2005), Sara Evans for Hear Something Country - Christmas 2007' (2007),[11] Kelly Clarkson for iTunes Session (2011) and Wrapped in Red (2013),[12] Michael Buble forChristmas(2011), Seth MacFarlane for Holiday for Swing (2014), Pentatonix for A Pentatonix Christmas (2016), Demi Lovato for (Spotify Singles (2017), Lana Del Rey and Kacey Musgraves for The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show (2019), among many other artists.[13]


  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. ISBN 9780310873877. Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.discogs.com/Bing-Crosby-With-John-Scott-Trotter-And-His-Orchestra-Ill-Be-Home-For-Christmas-If-Only-In-My-Dreams/master/858710#images/9742434
  4. ^ "The Jews Who Wrote Christmas Songs". InterfaithFamily.com.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 109. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ Pairpoint, Lionel. "And Here's Bing!". BING magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  8. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Rodriguez McRobbie, Linda (18 April 2013). "11 Reasons the BBC Has Banned Hit Songs". Mental Floss. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  10. ^ congress, library of. "I'll Be Home for Christmas". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 2017-11-07.
  11. ^ "Sara Evans, 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' – Song Review". Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  12. ^ "Kelly Clarkson, 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' – Song Review". Retrieved December 8, 2011.
  13. ^ "I'll Be Home For Christmas". Second Hand Songs.


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