California Croonin': An exhibit from the Special Collections of The Libraries of The Claremont Colleges
August 30 - October 29, 1999
Honnold/Mudd Library, 2nd Floor, North Reading Room
Curated by Holly Gardinier, Performing Arts Librarian, this exhibition showcases songs and sheet music about California.  For more information, phone (909) 607-3977.  This web preview shows a few of the items on display in the full exhibit.

"California, Here I Come,"

Bud De Sylva and Joseph Meyer wrote "California, Here I Come," in 1924.  Though Jolson is listed as a co-author, he probably did not have any part in the song's composition.  Jolson negotiated $5,000 from the publisher to have his name and picture on the sheet music cover; however, Jolson can be credited as being the first to popularize the song.

"California, Here I Come," was introduced to audiences in Al Jolson's highly successful show "Bombo."  In the first two weeks of its Los Angeles run the production grossed $75,200.  Jolson canceled the Riverside and San Bernardino performances when he found the advance ticket receipts disappointing.  The next night, instead of performing, Jolson was seen rooting at the fights in Vernon.  When the Riverside Loring Theater manager learned Jolson feigned laryngitis to get out of his contract, he convinced the Santa Barbara sheriff to garnish $4,100 in box office sales when "Bombo" played there. 

Jolson reprised "California, Here I Come," in the motion picture "Rose of Washington Square" (1946) and on the soundtracks of "The Jolson Story" (1946) and "Jolson Sings Again" (1949).  His 1946 Decca recording sold a million copies.

Goldman, Herbert G.  Jolson:  The Legend Comes to Life.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 132. 

"Nothing can daunt San Francisco"

On April 18, 1906, 2,500 people were killed and thousands were injured in the San Francisco earthquake.  The 1921 lyric "Nothing can daunt San Francisco," from the song "My San Francisco," attests to the invincible spirit the city developed after the tragedy.

San Francisco Destroyed.  Milwaukee, C. N. Caspar Co., 1906. (McPherson Collection)

"And so I think I'll travel on to Avalon"

"Avalon," written in 1920, is attributed to Al Jolson and Vincent Rose.  Al Jolson popularized the song about the Santa Catalina resort town in shows at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City.

In 1921, G. Ricordi, the publisher of Puccini's operas, sued all parties associated with the song "Avalon."  The publisher argued that the melody was lifted from Puccini's opera Tosca, specifically from the aria "E lucevan le stella".  Puccini and his publisher prevailed in the case and were awarded $25,000 in damages and all future royalties to "Avalon."

Avalon Harbor from the East, circa 1900.  Note the absence of the Catalina Casino, constructed in 1929.

The lyrics to "Avalon Town," composed in 1928, promise romance and a chance to experience a tropical paradise to those who come ashore.

Bathing scene, circa 1900, Santa Catalina Island.

Picturesque Santa Catalina Island:  Photogravures.   Los Angeles:  Denison New Company, ca. 1900.  (Mason Collection)

"All hail!  The University of California at Westwood"

The song "Westwood" captures the fulfilled dream of establishing a Southern Branch of the University of California.  The song was written in 1927 to celebrate the opening of the University of California at Westwood, today better known as UCLA.

Recycled Song

Original 1924 version.
In 1924, James W. Casey composed "Pasadena."  Twenty-five years later Casey reharmonized the song and changed the lyrics from "We're all going down to Pasadena in 1924" to lyrics with contemporary references to the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade.

1949 version.

"A Pomona Boy and a Pomona Girl"

In 1941, the Pomona College faculty staged "Mein Campus," a show to raise funds for the Edmunds Union.  The show featured two local hits, the humorous "Oh, How I Hate a Class at Eight" and the ballad "A Pomona Boy and a Pomona Girl."  Prof. Chester Jaeger, Chair of the Mathematics Department and a vaudevillian in his younger days, and Prof. William G. Blanchard, of the Music Department wrote the music and lyrics.



"Out Where the Sun Goes Down"

"Long Beach Out Where the Sun Goes Down," was written in 1932 to promote the city and its association with the Xth Olympiad. The Olympic rowing competitions where held in the Long Beach Marine Stadium.

Website layout and California Croonin' logo
by James Otto

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