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Five Things To Love About "Silver Bells"


A Sheynem Dank

It warms the cockles of The Enthusiast’s philosemitic heart to note that "Silver Bells" is one of the many Christmas songs written by Jewish composers and lyricists, a lengthy Nice List that includes among others Johnny Marks ("Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer") and Irving Berlin ("White Christmas").

The Woman Who Saved "Silver Bells"

You may think The Enthusiast is making this up, but it’s true: "Silver Bells" was originally called "Tinkle Bells." But Jay Livingston’s wife pointed out that they might as well go all the way and call it "Golden Showers." They changed the name.

Origin Story No. 1

Livingston says that "Silver Bells" was inspired by the sound of Salvation Army bell ringers clinging and clanging throughout New York City.

Origin Story No. 2

Rather more prosaically, however, his songwriting partner Ray Evans has stated that "Silver Bells" was inspired by a bell that sat on the desk that he and Livingston shared. A bell? On a desk? Where were you working – a hotel? The Enthusiast is sorry, but that that just doesn’t (wait for it, wait for it…) ring true.

It’s Christmas Time In The City

Christmas songs and carols tend to evoke the rural and pastoral, so it’s refreshing to spend a little time in a merry metropolis:

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

"Meeting smile after smile" may not quite capture the feeling of, say, queuing for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular – but isn’t it pretty to think so?

Number eight in a series.

8 December 2020

The Enthusiast ( is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. He is currently imbued with the holiday spirit.


Karen Madden

Another interesting piece, not only for expanding my vocabulary - "philosemitic".

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