Music throwback: Jingle Bells

The first notes in the chorus have become a motif that has been inserted into recordings other Christmas songs.,

It’s been around so long that I forgot Jingle Bells was actually penned by someone. The Wikipedia: “It was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822–1893) and published under the title One Horse Open Sleigh in the autumn of 1857.

“Although originally intended for the Thanksgiving season, and having no connection to Christmas, it became associated with Christmas music and the holiday season in general decades after it was first performed on Washington Street in Boston in 1857… It was first recorded in 1889 on an Edison cylinder” by Will Lyle.

Lots of people have recorded the song, of course, my favorite being Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters in 1943. Even barking dogs have charted, first in 1955.

Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space, by Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra with a smuggled harmonica.

Of course, it inspired a number of parodies and homages, most notably Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms from 1957, a very different tune that became one of the most popular seasonal song of all time; as of 2004, it was #3 behind only White Christmas by Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song.

“The first notes in the chorus have become a motif that has been inserted into recordings other Christmas songs, most notably a guitar passage at the end of [the Cole hit] and Clarence Clemons performing a saxophone solo in the middle of Bruce Springsteen’s Merry Christmas Baby; a piano is also heard playing these notes at the end of Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

But what’s not mentioned in the article is Joni Mitchell’s song River, which starts and ends with the Jingle Bells theme. I remain fascinated that one of my good friends, now deceased, who was a huge Joni fan did not discern it.

Listen to:

Jingle Bells (Disney)

Jingle Bells – Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters

Jingle Bells – Barking Dogs

Jingle Bells, Batman smells from the Simpsons

Jingle Bells – The Fab Four, in the style of Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles

Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

River – Joni Mitchell

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