Yuleblogging L.A.: The Greatest Christmas Songs Are About Los Angeles

Be careful what you wish for: “Motorists push stalled pickup on Magic Mountain Parkway near Interstate 5, background.” January 5, 1974. LA Times, used under Creative Commons.

This week I’ll be unveiling some Christmas tunes that, for one reason or another, are uniquely L.A. First up: “White Christmas.”

You wouldn’t think that many carols would hail from the land of swimming pools and movie stars, palm trees and earthquakes, riots and mudslides, and, of course, you’d be wrong.

“Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane),” for example, is actually about Hollywood Blvd. which used to be renamed “Santa Claus Lane” during the annual Santa Parade. Gene Autry penned the classic tune after attending in 1947.

But “White Christmas,” one of the most covered Christmas songs ever (and the Bing Crosby recording is the best selling single of all time), is actually about Los Angeles. Written by Irving Berlin, the original lyrics included an opening verse makes it clear the song is from the perspective of an Angeleno:

The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a dayIn Beverly Hills LA.
But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North.

…listen to the song with the original lyrics after the jump…

However, according to Wikipedia, Berlin wrote the song in 1940 while at a spa in Arizona. After the tune popped into his head, he reportedly called for his secretary, “”Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — hell, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”

The only recording I’ve ever been able to find that include Irving Berlin’s original lyrics come from Neil Diamond, who sang the opening verse on “The Christmas Album” in 1992. You can take a listen to a deliberately low quality version below, or buy the whole damn album here.

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