8 Surprising Facts About 'Let It Snow'

Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the set of the Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra Christmas Show in 1967.
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra on the set of the Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra Christmas Show in 1967.
Martin Mills/Getty Images

All it takes is hearing the piccolo at the beginning of Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow” to make some people crave the cold. No matter how you feel about the holidays, the honorary Christmas song celebrates a part of the season everyone can get on board with—namely, getting cozy indoors when the weather outside is frightful. Here are some festive facts you should know about the ultimate hygge anthem.

1. The lyrics of "Let It Snow" contain no mention of Christmas.

"Let It Snow" has become a regular part of radio stations' holiday playlists, along with tracks like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "All I Want for Christmas Is You." But unlike those songs, "Let It Snow" contains no references to Christmas. Fire, popcorn, and winter weather are all mentioned, none of which are uniquely Christmas-y. So feel free to continue singing "Let It Snow" into the New Year and beyond.

2. "Let It Snow" was written during a heatwave.

Lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne had to use their imaginations when writing "Let It Snow." The two were struggling to endure one of the hottest days on record in Southern California in July 1945. Instead of heading to the beach, they decided to stay inside and write a song that would transport them to the winters of their youths.

3. The full title of "Let It Snow" is a mouthful.

Cahn and Styne's tune was first recorded in 1945 and released under the full title "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" Today, the wordy title is commonly shortened to the simpler "Let It Snow."

4. You've probably never heard the original version of "Let It Snow."

Singer Vaughn Monroe was the first person to record "Let It Snow" in 1945. His version was a hit, climbing to No. 1 on the Billboard charts by late January 1946, but it isn't the track many people are familiar with today. Dean Martin recorded a cover in 1966, and even though it was released more than 20 years after the original, it's regarded by many as the classic version of the track.

5. It took 50 years for Dean Martin's version of "Let It Snow" to enter the Billboard charts.

After playing on radio stations through decades worth of Christmases, Dean Martin's cover of "Let It Snow" finally entered the Billboard Top 100 in 2018. It marked the first time in 49 years a Dean Martin track made the list, the last time being when "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" charted in 1969. Martin was just eight years shy of beating Louis Prima's record for longest gap between Hot 100 hits, which lasted 57 years.

6. The official music video for "Let It Snow" was only released in 2019.

After charting for the first time in 2018, Dean Martin's "Let It Snow" reached another important milestone in 2019: An official music video for the song was uploaded to YouTube in November. It features an animated version of the singer celebrating the holidays with a cartoon cast of characters. The video was produced by Universal Music Enterprises, which has also released animated videos for classic holiday songs like "Jingle Bells" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree."

7. A lot of big artists have covered “Let It Snow.”

As is the case with many famous holiday songs, “Let It Snow” has been covered by some of the biggest names in the music industry. Before Dean Martin recorded his iconic version in 1966, his Rat Pack buddy Frank Sinatra released his own single in 1950. In recent decades, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé, Jewel, and 98 Degrees have covered it. Some artists have found creative ways to make the classic song sound fresh; in 2005, Carly Simon released a version from the perspective of the party host instead of the guest.

8. "Let It Snow" has a warm-weather counterpart.

After writing one of the most popular winter songs of all time, Cahn and Styne joined forces again to pen a tune about nostalgia for warmer weather. In "The Things We Did Last Summer," the singer relies on happy summer memories to get through the winter months—a reversal of the situation that inspired "Let It Snow." "The Things We Did Last Summer" was a Top 10 hit when it was released in 1946 and it has since been covered by Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and The Beach Boys.

The Violent Shootout That Led to Daryl Hall and John Oates Joining Forces

Hall and Oates.
Hall and Oates.
Michael Putland, Getty Images

As songwriting partners, Daryl Hall (the blonde one) and John Oates (the mustachioed one) were tentpoles of the 1970s and 1980s music scene. Beginning with “She’s Gone” and continuing on through “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” and “I Can’t Go For That,” they’re arguably one of the biggest pop act duos in history.

Unfortunately, it took a riot and some gunfire to bring them together.

Both Hall and Oates were raised in the Philadelphia suburbs in the late 1950s and 1960s. After high school, both went on to Temple University—Hall to study music and Oates to major in journalism. While in their late teens, the two each had a doo-wop group they belonged to. Hall was a member of The Temptones, a successful act that had recently earned a recording contract with a label called Arctic Records; Oates was part of the Masters, which had just released their first single, “I Need Your Love.”

In 1967, both bands were invited to perform at a dance event promoted by area disc jockey Jerry Bishop at the Adelphi Ballroom on North 52nd Street in Philadelphia. According to Oates, the concert was a professional obligation: Bishop had the ability to give songs airtime.

“When Jerry Bishop contacted you, you had to go,” Oates told Pennsylvania Heritage magazine in 2016. “If you didn’t, your record wouldn’t get played on the radio.”

That’s how Hall and Oates found themselves backstage at the Adelphi, each preparing to perform with their respective group. (Oates said Hall looked good in a sharkskin suit with the rest of his partners, whereas he felt more self-conscious in a “crappy houndstooth” suit.) While Oates had previously seen The Temptones perform, the two had never met nor spoken. It’s possible they never would have if it weren’t for what happened next.

Before either one of them had even made it onto the stage, they heard gunshots. A riot had broken out between two rival factions of high school fraternities. They “really were just gangs with Greek letters,” Hall later told the Independent. Peering out from behind the curtain, Hall saw a fight involving chains and knives. Someone had fired a weapon.

“We were all getting ready for the show to start when we heard screams—and then gunshots,” Oates said in 2016. “It seemed a full-scale riot had erupted out in the theater, not a shocker given the times. Like a lot of other cities around the country, Philly was a city where racial tensions had begun to boil over.”

Worse, the performances were being held on an upper floor of the Adelphi. No one backstage could just rush out an exit. They all had to cram into a service elevator—which is where Hall and Oates came nose-to-nose for the first time.

“Oh, well, you didn’t get to go on, either,” Hall said. “How ya doin’?”

After acknowledging they both went to Temple, the two went their separate ways. But fate was not done with them.

The two ran into each other at Temple University a few weeks later, where they began joking about their mutual brush with death. By that time, Oates’s group, the Masters, had broken up after two of its members were drafted for the Vietnam War. So Oates joined The Temptones as a guitarist.

When The Temptones later disbanded, Hall and Oates continued to collaborate, and even became roommates. Hall eventually dropped out of Temple just a few months before he was set to graduate; Oates went traveling in Europe for four months and sublet his apartment to Hall’s sister. When he returned, he discovered she hadn’t been paying the rent. The door was padlocked. Desperate, Oates showed up on Hall’s doorstep, where Hall offered him a place to sleep. There, they continued to collaborate.

“That was our true birth as a duo,” Oates said.

Hall and Oates released their first album, Whole Oats, in 1972. Using a folk sound, it wasn’t a hit, but the rest of their careers more than made up for it. More than 50 years after that chaotic first encounter, the two have a summer 2020 tour planned.

Why Air Supply Changed the Lyrics to “All Out of Love” for American Fans

Air Supply.
Air Supply.
Peter Carrette Archive/Getty Images

Sometimes one minor detail can make all the difference. A case study for this principle comes in the form of the pop music act Air Supply, which enjoyed success in the 1980s thanks to mellow hits like “Lost in Love,” “Every Woman in the World,” and "Making Love Out of Nothing at All." Their 1980 single “All Out of Love” is among that laundry list, though it needed one major tweak before becoming palatable for American audiences.

The Air Supply duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock hailed from Australia, and it was one particular bit of phrasing in “All Out of Love” that may have proven difficult for Americans to grasp. According to an interview with Russell on Songfacts, the lyrics to the song when it became a hit in their home country in 1978 were:

I’m all out of love

I want to arrest you

By “arrest,” Russell explained, he meant capturing someone’s attention. Naturally, most listeners would have found this puzzling. Before the song was released in the United States, Air Supply’s producer, Clive Davis, suggested it be changed to:

I’m all out of love

I’m so lost without you

I know you were right

Davis’s argument was that the “arrest” line was “too weird” and would sink the song’s chances. He also recommended adding “I know you were right.”

Davis proved to be correct when “All Out of Love” reached the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1980.

While it would be reasonable to assume “I want to arrest you” is a common phrase of affection in Australia, it isn’t. “I think that was just me using a weird word,” Russell said. “But, you know, now [that] I think of it, it’s definitely very weird.”

Russell added that arrest joins a list of words that are probably best left out of a love song, and that cabbage and cauliflower would be two others.

[h/t Songfacts]