This reminds me of my childhood more than almost any other Christmas song. Its imagery calls to mind the way Christmas used to be. Before malls, when people shopped for Christmas downtown. And people actually dressed like Santa Claus to ring the silver bells at the Salvation Army kettles.
And when everyone knew the real Santa Claus was at Miller & Rhoads in Richmond.
“Silver Bells” was written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, and was first recorded by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards in 1950. Bing also recorded it with Ella Fitzgerald, with Rosemary Clooney, and by himself. Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell performed it in the 1951 film, Lemon Drop Kid.
Believe it or not, the song was originally written as “Tinkle Bells.” Fortunately, Jay Livingston went home and told his wife about the song. Mrs. L. informed her clueless husband what “tinkle” was slang for.
“Silver Bells” has been recorded by just about everyone who’s ever made a Christmas record, but here are some of the more unusual artists who have covered it: Jeannie C. Riley, The Brady Bunch, Regis Philbin, R.E.M., Boxcar Willie, and Twisted Sister.