December 22, 2016

“Let It Snow!” – the Christmas song that isn’t…


Every year at Christmas time, when I hear someone sing or say “Let It Snow!” I am reminded of what I learned when I looked into the song that popularized that phrase.

It was launched into our holiday lexicon in December 1945, when singer and big band leader Vaughn Monroe released the first recording of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

On December 22, 1945 his 78 RPM recording of that song entered the Billboard “Best Sellers in Stores” chart (a precursor of Billboard’s Top 40 and Hot 100 charts).
The words were written by lyricist Sammy Cahn. The music was by Cahn’s songwriting partner at the time, Jule Styne.

Monroe’s version of the song quickly became a huge hit, making it to Billboard’s number one spot on January 26, 1946.

In the decades since then, “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” has been recorded by countless other singers and bands.

Nowadays, many people think it’s a traditional Christmas song. “Let It Snow” is common on Christmas cards and in Christmas-related internet posts.

But, in fact, there’s no reference to Christmas or the holiday season in the lyrics and it wasn’t intended to be Christmas song.

It’s actually a romantic, somewhat corny love song about a guy who is visiting his girlfriend during the winter in some unnamed location.

Since it was the era of PG lyrics, the guy is not expecting to stay for the night. However, when it’s time for him to leave, “the weather is frightful.”

Gosh darnit! It’s snowing too hard for him to travel safely.

The lyrics are written from the guy’s point of view. He seems to see the weather as a stroke of luck and is happy to “let it snow.” 

He suggests to the girl that he’d hate to go out into the storm right at that moment, but if she’d just hold him tight for a while he’d be warm all the way home.

He also mentions he’d brought some popcorn they didn’t get around to eating yet, and the fire is so delightful, and the lights are turned down low, and…

And, the girl buys his snow job. Perhaps not reluctantly.

Then, like in the movies, there’s sort of a fade to a later time in the lyrics. The fire is dying and the couple is still, er, “good-bye-ing.”

Yeah, baby! “Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”

Although you may not be old enough to have heard Vaughn Monroe’s original version when it first entered the Billboard chart on December 22, 1945, you’ve heard it if you’re a fan of Bruce Willis action movies.

Monroe’s recording of “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” is the first song that plays during the end credits of Willis’ popular action movie Die Hard. It was also used in the soundtrack of Die Hard II.
So, yippee-kay-yay, fellow Bruce fans! Click on the video link at right and sing along! Here are the lyrics...

       “Oh, the weather outside is frightful
       But the fire is so delightful
       And since we’ve no place to go
       Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

       It doesn’t show signs of stopping
       And I brought some corn for popping
       The lights are turned way down low
       Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

       When we finally kiss good night
       How I hate going out in the storm
       But if you really you hold me tight
       All the way home I’ll be warm.

       The fire is slowly dying
       And, my dear, we’re still good-bye-ing
       But as long as you love me so
       Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!”

Ironically, as noted in the excellent book Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas, Cahn and Styne wrote the song while sitting in a stifling hot office in Hollywood during the summer of 1945.

Author Ace Collins says Styne worked out a melody he thought sounded “cool” on the piano. Then Cahn turned his thoughts to winter and: “Looking out the window at the California sun baking the landscape, he whispered, ‘Let it snow.’”

It was perfect! In a short time, Cahn and Styne finished what is now considered one of the top 25 Christmas songs of all time — even though it’s not really about Christmas.

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