Thursday, November 24, 2011
Jingle Bells - [James Pierpont, 1859]
OK – this is one great story; brace yourself. Jingle Bells is not a Christmas song!
Written by James Pierpont in 1857, (Republished in 1859) it memorializes the ‘Cutter’ drag races in Boston, where spiffed out sleighs would race between Medford and Malden Squares, and the drivers would attempt to impress the local chickies.
James S. Pierpont wrote his catchy ‘Jingle Bells,’ both words and music, for his father’s Sunday school class to sing at Thanksgiving in 1857. “A merry little jingle,” one of his admiring friends called it when she heard it for the first time, though Piermont’s original title was “The One Horse Open Sleigh.”
When the class’s 40 or so youngsters piped up with the song at turkey time, their performance was such a hit that they were asked to repeat it for the Christmas program. Pierpont, who had not bothered to blow his own horn, was for some years oblivious to the fact that he had a big hit on his hands. It wasn’t until 1864 when the Salem Evening News printed the facts of the song’s origin that Pierpont finally received the recognition he deserved.