No (Introductory) Christmas Lyric Left Behind

“The sun is shining / The grass is green . . .”  Thus begins one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It continues:

The orange and palm trees sway

There’s never been such a day

In Beverly Hills, L.A.

If you don’t recognize it yet, the next couple of lines may give it away:

But it’s December the 24th

And I’m longing to be up north . . .

At which point we finally get down to business and transition to the song’s main lyrics:

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas . ..

I’ve always loved introductory verses like the one in “White Christmas.”  I grew up with plenty of old, classic vinyl LP records (not to mention the brittle, even-older shellac 78 rpm records).  Some of those old records, I noticed, began with an odd, extra verse that got left off of most other versions of the songs.

For example, there’s this melancholy introductory lyric:

The loveliness of Paris seems somehow sadly gay

The glory that was Rome is of another day

I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan

I’m going home to my city by the bay . . .

At which point, as in “White Christmas,” comes the transformation into the song we all recognize:

I left my heart in San Francisco

With the Christmas season now upon us, I started realizing that many Christmas songs seem to have these introductory verses that get left off most recordings.  The aforementioned “White Christmas” is one, of course.  But there are also all these others—and I’m sure I’m leaving some off the list!

  • Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Raindeer − “You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen . . .”
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – “I just came back from a lovely trip along the Milky Way . . .”
  • The Christmas Song (i.e. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire”) – “All through the year we’ve waited / Waited through spring and fall / To hear silver bells ringing / See wintertime bringing / The happiest season of all . . .”
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – “Christmas Future is far away / Christmas Past is past / Christmas Present is here today / Bringing joy that will last. . .”
  • Winter Wonderland – “Over the ground lies a mantle of white / A heaven of diamonds shine down through the night . . .”

Here is the Eurythmics version of that last song, just because I like Annie Lennox so much 🙂

I wonder why so many Christmas songs have these lovely, secret opening verses.  And even more, I wonder:  Why are they so often left behind when the songs are recorded?

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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