The Long and Creepy History Behind L.A. County’s Official Anthem
Most people have probably never heard the ‘official song’ of Los Angeles County. But it’s there, hidden in obscurity for the past fifty-three years.
It’s called Seventy-Six Cities -- an ode to the number of cities that then comprised L.A. County -- and it was first performed by a group called Sing-Out 65 at a Board of Supervisors meeting on September 14, 1965.
“The Board members were so impressed by the song that a motion by Supervisor Warren M. Dorn was unanimously adopted declaring it to be the official County song,” according to a county memo from that year.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sing-Out 65, which later changed its name to Up With People, has been described by some former members, including actress Glenn Close, as a cult. A documentary by Lee Storey titled Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story chronicles the group’s alleged control tactics, odd sexual policies, and arranged marriages.
Other former members have taken issue with the characterization, saying the group was simply trying to promote conservative values at a time of cultural upheaval.
The group’s religious roots are evident in the first verse of the song.
God made the world and then
He looked around
To find Him a county and this is what He found
A land of sea and mountain and desert wilderness
And he made an earthly paradise He called Los Angeles