Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happiness is...a holiday classic show-down.

Last Thanksgiving I spent the weekend in lovely Savannah, GA. On one of our walking tours of the city we stopped in front of one of the ubiquitous town squares and heard the story of James Lord Pierpont, an organist in his brother's Unitarian church who was commissioned to write a song for the church's children's choir.  Inspired by his youth in New England and the sleighs the boys would race up and down the streets during the winter h composed a song that was so popular at the Thanksgiving service the children were requested to sing it again for Christmas. And so, the classic Jingle Bells was born.

At least  that's how the story goes.

However, if you go to Medford, Massachusetts, they will tell you he wrote it in Simpson Tavern on what is now High Street in the center of the town square. There's even a plaque there commemorating the event.

No one really knows how it came to be, but no on can deny that it's a timeless classic. It's been redone at least a bazillion times. And even made it's way into outer space!  As the fount of all knowledge (aka Wikipedia) tells it, the Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sent this message to Mission Control on December 16, 1965: "We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit...." The astronauts then produced a smuggled harmonica and sleighbells and broadcast a rendition of the song, making it the first to be broadcast from space.

So, on this, the longest day of the year, let's brighten things up a bit with a battle of the bands-ish competition.  I've picked a few different (and I think excellent) versions of the song by various and sundry artists. Some are a bit more traditional and some are completely off the wall. Which is your favorite?

I'm sure there are a million more out there. Have I missed your favorite? Post it in the comments and I'll see what I can do to add it in! The winner will be posted after I've received all of your votes.*  (Yes, that means you...all you lurkers who read and fail to identify yourselves! Make a comment or man up and become a legit blog follower. --Maybe one of these days I'll make it into the double digits-- It'll be great. We can be friends!)  ;)

(btw, don't you love how I squeezed in not one but TWO banjo songs?! Sneaky, aren't I?)

*disclaimer--no actual prizes will be awarded, just the knowledge that your version is superior to all others should be enough for you, yes?

1 comment:

  1. That's a tough one. I would say it's a three way tie between Frank Sinatra (so many memories associated with that song), Bing Crosby and the King's Singers. Merry Christmas and a Happy Jingle Bells.