Sand dunes and 80-degree December temperatures might seem like the last conditions on earth to inspire the creation of timeless holiday songs, but, in fact, the Coachella Valley figures prominently in the writing and recording of a few that we hold most dear.
There are several stories about the genesis of “White Christmas,” surely the most famous tune of all, but one tells of Irving Berlin writing it poolside at the La Quinta Inn-today’s La Quinta Resort & Club. (Another puts him poolside at The Arizona Biltmore). After finishing, he quickly called his secretary in New York reportedly exclaiming, “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written!”
That statement certainly makes sense in retrospect, considering that according to Guinness World Records, the version recorded by Bing Crosby, another desert fixture, ultimately became the bestselling single in history.
Regardless of the specific desert locale, most believe that the song was written in December 1937 for a Broadway show that was never produced. But later Berlin pulled it out of “the trunk” of song ideas he carried around as a possibility for Paramount Pictures’ 1942 musical film “Holiday Inn.” The beginning of the original first verse was dropped but it certainly could be describing the desert:
The sun is shining, the grass is green,
The orange and palm trees sway