"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. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has since gone on to become a Christmas standard.
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."
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. 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 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.
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.