The song was first recorded by Doye O'Dell in 1948, and was popularized the following year in three separate recordings: one by country artist Ernest Tubb; one by musical conductor and arranger Hugo Winterhalter and his orchestra and chorus; and one by bandleader Russ Morgan and his orchestra (the latter featuring lead vocals by Morgan and backing vocals by singers credited as the Morganaires). Tubb's version spent the first week of January 1950 at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Most-Played Juke Box (Country & Western) Records chart, while Winterhalter's version peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Records Most Played by Disk Jockeys chart and Morgan's version reached No. 11 on Billboard's Best-Selling Pop Singles chart. Both the Russ Morgan and the Hugo Winterhalter version featured a shorter pop edit of the original lyrics. Also in 1950 crooner Billy Eckstine recorded his rendition, backed by the orchestra of Russ Case, with these shortened lyrics in a variation close to what is now the common standard for this song; the orchestral backing of this recording has often been wrongfully accredited to Hugo Winterhalter.
Elvis Presley cemented the status of "Blue Christmas" as a rock-and-roll holiday classic by recording it for his 1957 LP Elvis'Christmas Album. Presley's version is notable musicologically as well as culturally in that the vocal group the Jordanaires (especially in the soprano line, sung by Millie Kirkham), replace many major and just minor thirds with neutral and septimal minor thirds, respectively.
I'll have a blue Christmas without you; I'll be so blue thinking about you. Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree Won't mean a thing if you're not here with me.
I'll have a blue Christmas, that's certain; And when that blue heartache starts hurting, You'll be doing all right with your Christmas of white, But I'll have a blue, blue Christmas.