"I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a Christmas song, written by Kim Gannon, Walter Kent and Buck Ram.
In 1943, this song joined "White Christmas" to become one of America's most popular Christmas songs. The recording by Bing Crosby shot to the top ten of the record charts that year and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States. The idea of being home for Christmas originated in World War II when soldiers at first thought that the war would be quick and they would return by Christmas time. This inevitably did not happen, hence the line "if only in my dreams".
A song titled "I'll Be Home for Christmas" was first copyrighted on August 24, 1943, by Kent (music) and James "Kim" Gannon (lyrics). The two revised and re-copyrighted their song on September 27, 1943, and it was this version that was made famous by Crosby. The label on Crosby's recording credits "I'll Be Home for Christmas" to Kent, Gannon, and Ram. Later recordings usually credit only Kent and Gannon. The discrepancy arose from the fact that on December 21, 1942 Buck Ram copyrighted a song titled "I'll Be Home for Christmas (Tho' Just in Memory)" — that song bore little or no resemblance, other than its title, to the Crosby recording.
According to Ram, who was primarily a lyricist, he had written the lyrics as a 16-year-old, homesick college student. Prior to his publishers planned release, he had discussed the song with two acquaintances in a bar. He left a copy with them, but never spoke to them about it again. Both he and his publisher were shocked when the song was released by a competing publishing house. Per news articles of the day, Ram's publisher, who had been holding the song back a year because they were coming out with "White Christmas," sued Gannon and Kent's publisher and prevailed in court.
On October 4, 1943, Crosby recorded "I'll Be Home for Christmas" with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra for Decca Records. Within about a month of Kent and Gannon's copyright the song hit the music charts and remained there for eleven weeks, peaking at number three. The following year, the song reached number nineteen on the charts. It touched a tender place in the hearts of Americans, both soldiers and civilians, who were then in the depths 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 in both, Europe and the Pacific and Yank, the GI Magazine, said Crosby accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era.
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" was recorded by Perry Como (1946), Frank Sinatra (1957) and countless other artists. And the team of Kent and Gannon continued to write songs, although none attained the popularity of "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Kent also composed the hit song, "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover," with the lyricist Nat Burton. Buck Ram is one of the top five songwriters of BMI's first 50 years. His hits include: "Only You", "The Great Pretender", "The Magic Touch", "Twilight Time", and "Remember When".
In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be Home for Christmas."