Christmas On The Block

Album: released as a single (1984)
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Songfacts®:

  • This Philadelphia Christmas favorite has a touching story. Alan Mann, a popular local musician who performed with his Alan Mann Band, was in West Philadelphia walking home one night when he came across a house lit up spectacularly for the holiday season. He later learned the house was the Overbrook School For The Blind, founded in 1832. Even though the students couldn't see them, the staff helped them decorate the building with beautiful lights and displays. Mann was deeply moved and got to thinking about how the blind perceive Christmas. He imagined that their experience would be quite vivid, filled with colors others can't see, a blessing rather than a handicap. He wrote "Christmas On The Block" from the experience.
  • Mann recorded the song in 1982, and delivered it to Philadelphia radio stations, which gave it some airtime. It got a great reaction from listeners, so Mann made a video for the song, recorded that winter in the Upper Darby area of Philly by his friend Rich Murray, a student at Temple University. The video was reportedly played on MTV.

    The song got more airplay on Philadelphia radio that year, and in 1984 it was released as a single. It remains a Christmas tradition in the city, especially on the station WMMR.
  • The children who sang in the choir were just regular kids Mann recruited from a second-grade class. They're clearly unprofessional and unrehearsed, but that's part of the charm, giving the song the feeling that anyone can sing it.
  • Alan Mann died in 1987 at 33 when his apartment caught fire and he either fell or jumped out of a window. He was a beloved fixture in the Philadelphia music scene.

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