Silver Bells

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"Silver Bells"
Song by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers
ReleasedOctober 1950 (1950-10)
Songwriter(s)Jay Livingston, Ray Evans

"Silver Bells" is a Christmas song composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

It debuted in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), where it was started by William Frawley,[1] then sung in the generally known version immediately thereafter by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell.[1] The first recorded version was produced by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards on September 8, 1950, with John Scott Trotter and His Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers.[2] The record was released by Decca Records in October 1950.[3] When the recording became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back in late 1950 to re-shoot a more elaborate production of the song.[1]


"Silver Bells" started out as "Tinkle Bells". Songwriter Ray Evans said: "We never thought that tinkle had a double meaning until Jay went home and his first wife said, 'Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word tinkle is?'"[4]

This song's inspiration is the source of conflicting reports. Several periodicals and interviews cite writer Jay Livingston stating that the song's inspiration came from the bells used by sidewalk Santa Clauses and Salvation Army solicitors on New York City street corners.[5][6][7] However, in an interview with NPR, co-writer Ray Evans said that the song was inspired by a bell that sat on an office desk that he shared with Livingston.[8]

Kate Smith's 1966 version[9] of "Silver Bells" became popular and has since been featured prominently in film[10] and on holiday albums.[11] The song was recorded by American country duo the Judds and was released as a single in 1987,[12] charting for one week in 1998 at No. 68 on the Hot Country Songs chart.[13] In 2009 the song charted in the United Kingdom for the first time when a duet by Terry Wogan and Aled Jones that had been recorded for charity reached the Top 40, peaking at No. 27.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Lemon Drop Kid" in The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (online database).
  2. ^ "A Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  3. ^ "Record Reviews", Billboard, October 28, 1950, p. 40.
  4. ^ Furia, Philip & Lasser, Michael (2006). America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Routledge. p. 233. ISBN 9781135471996.
  5. ^ "Livingston & Evans, 1951 – Livingston & Evans". Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Silver Bells by Bing Crosby". SongFacts. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  7. ^ American Songwriter Magazine. July–August 1988. 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.
  8. ^ "What's in a Song? 'Silver Bells'". NPR. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  9. ^ "Kate Smith - The Kate Smith Christmas Album". AllMusic, Netaktion LLC. Archived from the original on August 7, 2012. Retrieved November 2, 2020. Release Date November 28, 1966 Alt URL[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Christopher Monger, James. "Original Soundtrack - The Polar Express". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.
  11. ^ "The Time-Life Treasury of Christmas - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. April 1, 2019. Archived from the original on April 1, 2019. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
  12. ^ Silver Bells / Away in a Manger (7" vinyl). RCA. 1987. 5350-7-R.
  13. ^ "The Judds". Billboard.

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