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9. Jingle Bells

During December, I’m posting my Top 10 favorite holiday songs. Each song has a special story or meaning behind it for me. What stories or meanings do you have for your favorite holiday songs?

The typical reaction to this holiday song is, “Oh, brother! Not this one again!” (I say “holiday” because “Jingle Bells” was originally written for US Thanksgiving, not Christmas.) There have been countless versions of this song, endless parodies, and that time someone appended “Rock” to the title and came up with a whole different song. So, why is “Jingle Bells” on my list?

When I worked at AST Computer in the early 1990s, I was put in charge of organizing a caroling group at our office. (See, music does have practical career applications.) We would go to departments that could use some holiday cheer (and weren’t on the phone with customers at the time) and sing them a song or two. We needed something we could sing as we walked around the buildings. I chose “Jingle Bells.” The song is incredibly easy to sing. Everyone knows the music and lyrics. It’s a song you can sing without even thinking about it. “Jingle Bells” because our group’s calling card. People knew we were coming when they heard us sing it.

Although “Jingle Bells” is sung around the world, it is a distinctively American song. It describes cruising the open road in a high-powered vehicle with the reckless passion of youth. The musicians were right in that version of the song above. You can change the lyrics to “a ’57 Chevrolet” and the song still shows its spirit. “Jingle Bells” was a 19th century version of the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” and “Fun, Fun, Fun.”

So, don’t turn up your nose at “Jingle Bells.” It’s an easy, fun, and boldly American song that brings back lots of holiday memories. Oh! what fun it is to ride.