This was originally recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943, and it quickly became one of America's most popular holiday songs along with "White Christmas
," which Bing had put onto disc the previous year. The song particularly struck a nerve with overseas GIs and their families awaiting their return from serving their country in World War II. The GI
magazine said Crosby accomplished more for military morale than anyone else of that era.
This was written by Walter Kent (music) and James Kimball "Kim" Gannon (words). Though Kent and Gannon collaborated on other songs, none reached the same level of popularity as "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Kent had had previous success with the hit song "(There'll Be Blue Birds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover," with the lyricist Nat Burton in 1941.
There have been two made-for-TV movies and a 1998 film all titled I'll Be Home For Christmas, which have all featured this tune on their soundtracks.
In 2007 Noel became the first Christmas album to top the Billboard album chart in 13 years. The previous holiday recording to head the list was Kenny G's best-selling Miracles - The Holiday Album, which reached the summit in December 1994. Groban's album benefited from his appearance on Oprah Winfrey's "My Favorite Things" edition of her show.
Josh Groban's version of this song topped the American adult Contemporary Chart in December 2007.
Noel was the top-selling album of the 2007 calendar year and the year's top-selling new release. Though Daughtry was crowned as the #1 Billboard 200 album of the year, the figures for publication reasons are based on November to November and the majority of Noel's sales were made in December 2007. In addition, when Noel became #1 on The Billboard 200 for the fifth week in a row, it became the longest-running #1 Christmas album of all time. The previous record holder had been Elvis Presley, who spent four weeks at the summit with his 1957 LP, Elvis' Christmas Album.
Noel also broke the record on January 5, 2008 for the most songs (five) from one album on the Top 30 of the Adult Contemporary chart, more than any other artist has ever had in the same week.
Josh Groban's single version, which peaked at #95 on the Hot 100 version, was a live recording for WLTW (106.7 Lite FM) New York listeners. It was different to the album cut, which was taped in the studio.
The song reached the Hot 100 for the second time in 2011 when Kelly Clarkson's version debuted at #93.
Lady Antebellum covered the song for their 2012 festive album, On This Winter's Night. "As you get a little older and everybody has their jobs and then families and kids, it definitely becomes harder to get everybody together at once," Lady A's Charles Kelley noted. "It would be pretty special to have the whole family in the room and get back to where we were as kids... all waking up on Christmas morning, walking down and having that tradition."