Thursday 17 December 2015

Jay Livingston & Ray Evans' "Silver Bells"

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner, you hear
Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day.

In 1950, Paramount Pictures approached the song writing duo of Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and asked them to write a Christmas song for their new picture, The Lemon Drop Kid.  Livingston, inspired by a bell sitting on his piano, penned Tinker Bells (others claimed that he was inspired by the Salvation Army bells).  However, his wife Lynne Gordon pointed out that "tinkle" is a slang word for urinate so the piece was changed to Silver Bells.

Later that year, Bing Crosby and Carol Richards recorded the Christmas song with Decca Records. The Lemon Drop Kid premiered, starring bob Hope and Carol Richards, who sang the song.  The piece was not expected to be a success; Nat King Cole placed it on the B-side of his album.  However, the song took off on the charts and was recorded by numerous singers.  Livingston and Evans, with hits like Que Sera, Sera and  Buttons on Bows, and now Silver Bells, were called "the last great songwriters in Hollywood". (

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