Every holiday season since 1963, I've played the cast album of Here's Love!, Meredith Willson's musical version of Miracle on 34th Street. Much of the score really stinks, but I do have a fondness for the title song, in which Willson imagines a world where rivals wish each other well. "CBS to NBC," he wrote. "From Cinderella to her sisters," and so on.

Trouble is, the 42-year-old song has a ton of dated references. Yes, the one about Fidel Castro still holds lo these many decades later, but JFK, Nikita (Khrushchev, once premier of the Soviet Union), the Eisenhowers, and Elizabeth Taylor are no longer au courant. So I started thinking about writing a new version of "Here's Love!" that would be chock-full of contemporary references. I'd substitute yesterday's topical subjects with names and words that weren't even around in 1963.

I figured it would be an easy task, because the ditty is nothing more than a "list" song -- Willson's version of a Cole Porter specialty. An afternoon's work should swing it, I decided. But afternoon reached into evening, then to the next day, then to the next week, and I still wasn't remotely finished. For a while there, I thought my new "Here's Love" wouldn't be ready until next December. For one thing, the word "love" has precious few rhymes in the English language, and I found that I could come up with nothing better than what Willson devised. I was especially impressed with the way he used "shove," a negative-sounding word that would seem to have no place in a life-affirming song. Yet he found a way to nicely work it in, as you'll see below, for I wound up maintaining each of his "love" rhymes. What's more, I cribbed his four opening lines, for I couldn't best his way of getting us into the spirit and message of the song.

As a result, I now have more respect for what Willson achieved with these lyrics. Maybe we should all try our own versions of songs we know, so we'll come to appreciate just how good their writers are (or were). If you don't know "Here's Love!", I recommend that you go out and get the cast album, for this song, "The Big Calown Baloons," and "That Man Over There" are worth the price of the disc despite the many duds in the score. Anyway, for better or worse, here's "Here's Love!" 2005:

********************

Me to you
And you to me
From people to people
Wherever they may be

From the calm and the rested
To the people bombarded with stress
From Master Card and Visa
To American Express

KFC
To Taco Bell
From Compac Computers
To Mackintosh and Dell

From Toyota to Honda
From Ted Turner to Jane Fonda
Here's Love! Here's Love!
From the ground-floor apartment
To the party up above
Here's Love, Love, Love!

All the Brits
To Tony Blair
Lufthansa and Qantas
To Song and U.S. Air

From the people convicted
To the people released on appeal
Hello from Kobe Bryant to
His buddy Shaq O'Neal

Seven-Up
To Mountain Dew
The Pillsbury Dough Boy
To Betty Crocker, too.

From George Dubya to Kerry
From Carvel to Ben and Jerry
Here's Love! Here's Love!
From the girl that's behind you
To the girl you're dreamin' of
Here's Love, Love, Love!

Orange Drink
To Orange Juice
A serving of Jello to gobs of Choc'late Mousse

From the broadminded liberals
To the people who go by the book
From Nike to Adidas,
Peter Pan to Captain Hook

Ev'ry weed
To ev'ry lawn
From wealthy Marc Shaiman
To critic Michael John

Fom the con-men to suckers,
Skippy Extra-Chunk to Smuckers,
Here's Love! Here's Love!
From the car with the bumper
To the car that needs a shove
Here's Love, Love, Love

All the Crips
To all the Bloods
From Samuel Adams
To Heinekens and Buds

From the buff boys in Chelsea
To the guys who are putting on weight
From Michigan, who always hopes
To beat Ohio State

Ev'ry straight
To eve'ry gay
From ev'ry transgendered
To those not born that way

Bernadette says to Reba
(As does Sony to Toshiba)
Here's Love! Here's Love!
From the lamb to the lion,
From the eagle to the dove
Here's Love, Love, Love!

From Albin
To M. Dindon
From Amber to Tracy,
Javert to Jean Valjean

To the actors competing
For a truly remarkable role
Regards from Paris Hilton to
That -- what's her name? -- Nicole?

Hedy Weiss
To David Stone
From Andrew Lloyd Webber
To Patti (yes, LuPone)

Walter Younger to Lena,
And from Kristin to Idina
Here's Love! Here's Love!
And from me, Pete Filichia,
All the best is what I wish ya:
Here's Love! Love! Love!

********************

[To contact Peter Filichia directly, e-mail him at pfilichia@theatermania.com]