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  • Writer's pictureSusan Welsh

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas Part 2

"White Christmas" is about as iconic a holiday song as you can find and it’s role in American history is pervasive. Irving Berlin penned the original lyrics with an introduction that is decidedly Californian in perspective:

“The sun is shining

the orange and palm trees sway

I’ve never seen such a day

In Beverly Hills, LA”

It’s the omission of this introduction, however, that ultimately made for a more relatable tune. The song, released 17 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, resonated with American servicemen who were shipping overseas and filled with longing for holidays back home. Berlin acknowledged the impact of timing on the song’s popularity saying, “Songs make history and history makes songs.”

Decades later, that same song would play another integral role in American war history when it would serve as the signal for the evacuation during the Fall of Saigon on April 29th, 1975. American civilians and Vietnamese refugees were instructed to listen to American Armed Forces radio and be prepared to move as soon as they heard “the temperature in Saigon is 105 degrees and rising,” followed by the playing of "White Christmas".

“White Christmas”, earning over a million dollars in royalties

and the Academy Award for Best Song in 1942, has been recorded by dozens of artists in multiple languages including Dutch, Yiddish, Japanese and Swahili.

Though Bing Crosby was the first to record the song, it will always be Rosemary Clooney's velvet-voiced version that I will love the most.

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