It's that time of the year again when the sound of holiday music fills the air and one of the most popular songs of the season is "Jingle Bells." But did you know...
- "Jingle Bells" was written by James Lord Pierpont (1822-1893), a New Englander who moved south along with his brother, the Reverend John Pierpont, when the Reverend accepted a position at a church in Savannah, Georgia. When trouble began brewing in the southern states, the Reverend Pierpont headed north, but James stayed in the south. James eventually joined the Isle of Hope Volunteers of the 1st (later the 5th) Georgia Calvary where he served as a company clerk. During his stint in the army, he composed confederate patriotic songs including, "We Conquer or Die."
- "Jingle Bells", published and copyrighted in 1857 as "The One Horse Open Sleigh," was originally written as a Thanksgiving song. In 1859 it was re-released as "Jingle Bells or The One Horse Open Sleigh".
- There are plaques commemorating the composition of "Jingle Bells" in both Medford, Massachusetts, and Savannah, Georgia.
- It was first recorded by the Edison Male Quartette in 1898. Since then, the song has been recorded many times by everyone from the Chipmunks, to the Sex Pistols, to Michael Buble'.
- "Jingle Bells" was the first song performed in space. On December 16, 1965, Walter M. "Wally" Schirra and Thomas P. Stafford performed the tune on a tiny harmonica and five small bells. The harmonica and bells can now be found at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
- The barking dog version of the song came out in 1955 and it's official title is "Don Charles presents The Singing Dogs directed by Carl Weismann."
From 1857 until now "Jingle Bells" has come a long way. One has to wonder what James Lord Pierpont would've thought, if he could've known, that his simple song would end up being performed by Chipmunks, barking dogs, and astronauts!