The Magic Highway


San Bernadino has been voted in as the official song of the city! The vote was made by the San Bernardino City Council in December 2005. In the month before, a series of articles run in the local paper, the San Bernardino Sun, publicised the song in print and on its website. The paper also ran a poll on making San Berna(r)dino the official song, with 85 per cent voting in favour. The articles, written by John Weeks, have been condensed into the piece reprinted below.

SB Sun logoA NEW favorite has emerged in the search for an official city song for San Bernardino.
     Actually, it's an old favorite.
     The song is San Bernardino by Christie, and it was a major pop hit in 1970. It tells the story of a wanderer who searches the world but finds no inner peace until deciding to return home to San Bernardino.
     Leading an effort to adopt the song as San Bernardino's official anthem is City Councilwoman Susan Lien Longville.
     She is working to muster consensus support for the song among several city agencies, including the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor's Office and the City Administrator's Office. Ultimately, she hopes to persuade the City Council to make it official.
     "It's going to come before the City Council in the near future," she said. "Once it's approved, we can use the song at events like the Stater Bros Route 66 Rendezvous, and we can feature it on the city's website. We can use the song to promote the city's identity. Anyone who listens to it can immediately understand what an incredible asset it could be for our city.''
     Lien Longville already has gained the support of one important backer, the English pop star who wrote and first recorded the song.
     Jeff Christie, whose self-named group had several pop hits in the '70s, has granted permission for the city to use his song and has promised to make personal appearances at city events where the song is featured.
     "Of course you have my permission to use San Bernardino as your official city song. It's the city I was writing about,'' he said.
     Jeff said the song came about in 1970 when he searched for a prototypical California city to symbolise the lure of the Golden State. He chose San Bernardino because he liked the sound of the name.
     Also, he was familiar with the city because of its proximity to Los Angeles, where he was doing a lot of work at the time.
     San Bernardino became a No. 1 hit throughout Europe and won multiple music industry awards. Almost 20 cover versions of the song have been recorded by other artists throughout the world.
     Interestingly, the song was only a minor hit in the United States, climbing to No. 92 on the Billboard chart.
     In fact, the American version appeared with a typographical error in the title, with the city's name misspelled as San Bernadino.'
     "I don't know how the `r' was omitted on the record label,'' Jeff Christie said, "but once CBS (Sony) had pressed so many records they would not entertain destroying them to re-label with the correct spelling.''
     A lot of us with deep roots in the Inland Empire remember the song when it was new.
     I recall having conversations about it with friends. It was flattering, we thought, that an English group would wax rhapsodic about San Bernardino, even if they didn't get the name quite right.
     One friend, Lynn Brokaw, has a particularly vivid memory of the song. Brokaw, a San Bernardino native, is now the eastern region home delivery manager of the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, which includes The Sun, but in the early '70s was a young soldier stationed in Germany.
     "I was a draftee assigned to a US Army training area in Hoenfeld, Germany. One night, while hoisting beers at a local gasthaus, someone dropped a dime (actually a mark) and played San Bernardino on the jukebox. It was amazing!'' he said.
     Lien Longville, a California resident since 1973, first learned of the song from her husband, John Longville, the former Rialto mayor and California assemblyman, who is an avid music collector.
    "We listened to it together, and I immediately knew this would be a great song for the city,'' she said.
     In fact, the councilwoman has compiled a Top 10 list of reasons why the city should adopt San Bernardino as its official song.
SB poll1. The tune is catchy, and easy for even those of us with modest vocal ranges to handle.
2. The song has a country-rock style, which matches our community well.
3. The lyrics are so favorable in their treatment of our city that one might easily believe it was specifically written to serve as our anthem.
4. The lyrics have specific emotional appeal to those born and raised in San Bernardino.
5. The lyrics also appeal to potential visitors to our city, including residents of foreign lands.
6. The song is a proven hit all over the world, having achieved No. 1 on the charts across Europe and reached the Top 10 in many nations when it was originally released.
7. A Spanish-language recording of the song (by Los Mismos, a Mexican pop group) already exists, so we don't have to translate it to sing it in Spanish (San Bernardino has a large Spanish-speaking community).
8. There are numerous other cover vesions of the song already available in many languages, which could be used in worldwide promotional campaigns if our Convention and Visitors Bureau were to obtain the rights to use some of those foreign versions.
9. Jeff Christie, the British musician who wrote the song, has already given us permission to use his original version for city purposes.
10. Nowhere in the lyrics does it mention smog, crime or any of the other negative images emphasised in Frank Zappa's song San Ber'dino.'

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