FYI: "Jingle Bells" history

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Wed Dec 14 15:32:52 UTC 2005

The search engines don't seem to add much more information, but someone can  
try. I thought the Boston Globe would help on this.  
"Jingle Bells", originally "One Horse Open Sleigh", is one of  the best known 
and commonly sung secular _Christmas songs_ 
(  in the  world. It was written in _1857_ 
(  by _James Pierpont_ ( 
  (1822–1893) to be sung at a _Thanksgiving_ 
(  program at his  church in _Boston_ 
(,_Massachusetts) , and was  repeated at _Christmas_ 
(  due to its instant  popularity. 
As originally published, the song had a different melody as its _chorus_ 
(  part, which was less  joyful and more 
_classical_ ( , _Mozart_ 
( -like sounding. It is  unknown who replaced the chorus with 
its modern version. 
The song does not mention Christmas. The first verse and _chorus_ 
(  are the most often sung  (and remembered) parts of 
"Jingle Bells": 

Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open _sleigh_ 
( ,  
O'er the fields we go, laughing all the way.  
_Bells_ (  on Bob-Tail (see note  below) 
ring, making spirits bright,  
What fun it is to ride and sing a sleighing song tonight. 

Jingle bells, jingle bells,  
Jingle all the way!  
O what fun it is to ride  
In a one-horse open sleigh. 
Note: Contrary to a common misunderstanding, "Bells on Bob-tail" (not  
bob-tails) refers to the actual horse pulling the said "open sleigh", who is  named 
Bob-tail. It is not referring to animals with bobbed tails. 
Although less well known than the opening, the remaining verses depict  
high-speed youthful fun. In the second verse the narrator takes a ride with a  girl 
and loses control of the sleigh: 

A day or two ago  
I thought I'd take a ride  
And soon Miss Fanny Bright  
Was seated by my side  
The horse was lean and lank  
Misfortune seemed his lot  
We ran into a drifted bank  
And there we got upsot 
In the next verse he falls out of the sleigh and a rival laughs at him: 

A day or two ago  
The story I must tell  
I went out on the snow  
And on my back I fell  
A gent was riding by  
In a one-horse open sleigh  
He laughed at me as I there lay  
But quickly drove away 
In the final verse, he picks up some girls, times a horse, bets on it, and  
then takes off at full speed: 

Now the ground is white  
Go it while you're young  
Take the girls along  
and sing this sleighing song  
Just bet a bobtailed bay  
Two forty as his speed  
Hitch him to an open sleigh and crack!  
You'll take the lead 
In spirit – "Go it while you're young" – the song anticipates the themes of  
songs about girls and cars of a century later like _Chuck Berry_ 
( 's "Maybellene"  or the _Beach Boys_ 
( ' "Fun Fun  Fun". 
[_hide_ (javascript:toggleToc()) ]
    *   _1 "Jingle Bells" in  space_ 
    *   _2 Parodies_ (   
    *   _3 Pronunciation_ 
    *   _4 Media_ (   
    *   _5 External link_ 

( ]

"Jingle Bells" in space
"Jingle Bells" was the first song broadcast from space, in a Christmas-themed 
 prank by _Gemini 6_ (  astronauts _Tom 
Stafford_ (  and _Wally Schirra_ 
( , _December 16_ 
( , _1965_ ( . 
Contacting Mission Control  with a report 

"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south,  
probably in polar orbit... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in  
front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit..." 
The astronauts then produced a smuggled harmonica and sleighbells and  
broadcast a rendition of "Jingle Bells" (_Smithsonian  Magazine_ 
(  December 2005 pp25ff). 
( ]

Like many simple, catchy, and popular melodies, "Jingle Bells" is often the  
subject of _parody_ ( . 
Numerous parodies start out with the line, 

Jingle bells, shotgun shells 
Another version that has been common among _elementary school_ 
(   children throughout the English-speaking 
world since the late 1960s at least, is  of unknown origin. 

Jingle bells, _Batman_ (  smells,

_Robin_ (  laid an  egg,

_The  Batmobile_ 
(  lost a wheel

and _Joker_ (  got away.  
The song has appeared in the _1993_ (  
comedy film _Look  Who's Talking Now_ 
('s_Talking_Now&action=edit)  as well as the first _Simpsons_ 
(  Christmas  special (arguably the first 
episode). It first appeared in a Batman-related  media on an episode of _Batman: 
the  Animated Series_ 
( , where, fittingly, it was sung by the Joker as he  escaped from Arkham 
Asylum. _The Flash_ (  also uses it in  
reference to Batman on an episode of _Justice League  Unlimited_ 
( . 
An "instrumental" version of Jingle Bells heard every year (much to the  
annoyance of many listeners) has the melody rendered by means of dog barks for  
each note. Attributed to the "Singing Dogs," it was put together by a Danish  
recorder of bird songs who had removed the barks from his bird tapes, although  
there are allegations that the sounds were edited to make them on pitch. 
Ethnic comedy singer _Yogi  Yorgesson_ 
( , perhaps better known for the _Dr. Demento_ 
(  favorite, "I  Yust Go Nuts at 
Christmas", also recorded this song from the point of view of a  theoretically 
hardy Nordic type, who finds that riding in the open air in winter  can be 

Yingle Bells, Yingle Bells,  
Yingle all de vay;  
I should have vorn long undervare,  
In dat one-horse open sleigh 
_Stan Freberg_ (  references  bits 
of many secular Christmas songs in his _1959_ 
(  part-song, part-prose "Green  Chri$tma$" parody of the 
over-commercialization of Christmas, including this  segment which refers to another famous 
Christmas song, takes a shot at 1950s  cigarette ads, and segues in and out of a 
version of the song, also referencing  the other meaning of "_Jingle_ 
( " as an advertising  tune: 

Chestnuts roasting...  
(Say, Mother, as sure as there's an "X" in "Christmas", you can be sure  
those are TINE-EE-TIM Chestnuts roasting... etc.)  
Tine-ee-Tim, Tine-ee-Tim Chestnuts all the way!  
(Tine-ee-Tim's roast hot, like a chestnut ought! And they are mild...  
mild... mild...) 

Jingles here, jingles there, jingles all the way!  
Dashing through the snow  
In a 50-foot coupé  
O'er the fields we go  
Selling all the way 
The version by Da Yoopers begins this way: 

Dashing t'rough da snow  
In my rusty Chevrolet  
Down da road I go  
Sliding all da way 
A slightly off-kilter instrumental reference to the song precedes the  
otherwise original music and lyrics composed by _Ray Stevens_ 
(  for his novelty  song, "Santa Claus is Watching You!" 
(He's everywhere! He's everywhere!) 
Likewise, the tune is used as instrumentl intro to _Elmo  and Patsy_ 
( 's irreverent 
novelty song, Grandma Got Run Over By a  Reindeer. 
Another Dr. Demento favorite is "Laughing Jingle Bells", consisting entirely  
of an overly-cheerful man doing the song entirely as different kinds of 
laughs,  only speaking at the end when he says "Merry Christmas!" in a laughing 
_Norelco_ (  once advertised their  
newly-designed electric razors with a jingle that went something like this: 

Floating heads, floating heads,  
Floating all the way 
( ]

    *   In most modern versions, the word "Jingle" is pronounced  
"JING-gull". In _Bing Crosby_ ( 's 1940s-era  
recording, which is still available and still gets occasional airplay, Crosby  
pronounces it "JING-ull". 
James Lord Pierpont 
The colorful James Pierpont was the author of "One Horse Open Sleigh" which  
was first published in 1857. In 1859, he reissued the song under a new name:  
"Jingle Bells." It was a "sleighing song" which was a popular topic of the 
time  and had nothing to do with Christmas, or for that matter, Thanksgiving. 
... (Worth reading in full.)

More information about the Ads-l mailing list