Silver Bells

Album: Bing! His Legendary Years, 1931 to 1957 (1952)

Songfacts®:

  • This song evokes the sights and sounds of Christmas as anticipation builds for the holiday. We see happy people bustling beneath Christmas lights on sidewalks and hear the sound of ringing bells, which only happens this time of year. The bells are a longstanding tradition of The Salvation Army, which sends out troops to stand by kettles and ring bells to solicit donations around Christmastime.
  • This Christmas classic was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the 1951 Bob Hope movie The Lemon Drop Kid. Among the many other hit records the duo have written are two Academy Award winning numbers, "Buttons and Bows" and "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)." They join Johnny Marks ("Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer") and Irving Berlin ("White Christmas") on the list of Jewish songwriters who composed famous Christmas songs.
  • This song was originally sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in The Lemon Drop Kid. The following year, Bing Crosby, together with Carol Richards, did the first recorded version.
  • The song's co-writer Jay Livingston told American Songwriter Magazine July/August 1988 that this originally had a different title. He recalled: "We wrote a song called 'Tinkle Bell,' about the tinkly bells you hear at Christmas from the Santa Clauses and the Salvation Army people. We said 'this is it, this will work for the picture,' so I took it home and played it for my wife. She said 'you wrote a song called 'Tinkle Bell'? Don't you know that word has a bathroom connotation?' So I went back to Ray the next day and told him we had to throw the song out, and we did."

    However as the duo continued to work on their assignment, they found themselves taking many of the lines and part of the melody from their "Tinkle Bell" song. In the end, they used the original song, except for substituting the word silver for tinkle, and the song became "Silver Bells."
  • The song charted in the UK for the first time in 2009 when a duet by BBC Radio 2 DJ Sir Terry Wogan and Welsh singer Aled Jones reached the Top 40. Their version was for the Bandaged charity.

Comments: 2

  • Kevin from Salt Lake City, Ut"Jay and Ray" as they were known in Hollywood, were also famous for "Mona Lisa", "The Theme From Bonanza", "Tammy" and the "Theme From Mr. Ed".
  • Kevin from Salt Lake City, UtThe Carpenters performed a Spike Jones inspired version of "Silver Bells" on their Christmas album.
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