Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 41 (December 12, 2021): Ring Them Jingle Bells

Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 41 (December 12, 2021): Ring Them Jingle Bells

This Week’s Theme: Ring Them Jingle Bells

If aliens came down and asked us to explain Christmas carols to them, we would be smart to play “Jingle Bells” as example number one. It has all the qualities of a classic Christmas carol. There are sleigh bells, there is a sing-a-long chorus that even a three-year old can handle, and there is plenty of space for vocal improvisation such as “Hey!,” “Ha Ha Ha,” and even a big raspberry at the end if that is your kind of fun. The fact that we’ve all heard it and sung it a thousand times does not mean we shouldn’t embrace it as what is most likely America’s greatest addition to the holiday music canon.

“Jingle Bells” was written by James Lord Pierpont around 1850 and was copyrighted in 1857 under the name “The One Horse Open Sleigh.” You can spend the rest of this year’s holiday season reading about the song and it’s history, so I’ll just hit some highlights.

  • It was most likely a collection of stolen ideas and lyrics from other popular songs of the era. In that sense it is one of the first rock and roll songs.
  • Bells on horse-drawn sleighs were important to alert others to your presence. There was no sleigh insurance back then.
  • Although the verses have remained mostly unchanged, the original chorus resembled Pachelbel’s Canon. The chorus we all know dates back to at least 1898 and the first recorded version, released on Edison Records.
  • Pierpont is in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and “Jingle Bells” is one of the most recognized, performed, and recorded songs in the history of whenever we started tracking these sorts of things. Almost everyone in every country around the world knows and sings the song. Only “Happy Birthday” can claim to be as well-known.
  • It was the first song broadcast from space, with astronauts Wally Schirra on harmonica and Tom Stafford on bells. They smuggled the instruments onto their 1965 Gemini VI mission. They played the song while relaying a message about an object entering a low orbit from The North Pole.
This is the earliest surviving recording of “Jingle Bells” (The Edison Male Quartet 1898). The first known recording, by Will Lyle in 1889, is not believed to exist any longer. If you find a copy in your collection of 19th century Edison cylinders, let me know.
The first song broadcast from space.

Part three of this four-part, holiday-themed Faux Show series includes forty different versions of “Jingle Bells” by forty different artists. Every year at the Faux household, we select one holiday standard and make a massive playlist of as many versions as we can find of that one song. Of all of these collections, the “Jingle Bells” version is still the best. The diversity of artists, styles, renditions, and arrangements for this one simple song is astounding. This week’s show is a sampling across that diverse selection. So get out your sleigh bells and start jingling. And please, whatever you do, don’t get upsot!

Welcome to Radio Faux Show number forty-one.

First things first – click a link to start listening and then come back to read about this week’s songs.


Amazon Music

Theme Highlights

In 1938, Fats Waller recorded one of the first jazz versions.

In 1941, the Glenn Miller & His Orchestra version hit number five.

In 1943, the Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters version hit number nineteen and was the first version to sell over one million copies.

In 1951, the Les Paul version hit number ten and was the first multi-tracked version recorded.

Johnny Bowtie Barstow is an outsider artist. His back story is a mystery, and some claim that his tone-deaf and a-rhythmic delivery was an act. There are a lot of other outside artists who share his same vocal weaknesses, so it makes little sense why that would be the case. His holiday recordings, especially “The First Noel,” are a Faux household favorite.

The late ’60s Studio One version by Roy Richards is one of many great reggae holiday releases from the label.

The three Country & Western variations by Jimmy Martin, Maddux Brothers & Rose, and Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith are all great. Martin was a bluegrass pioneer. Maddux Brothers & Rose are early rock and roll/rockabilly pioneers, and Smith was a million-selling artist who pioneered country music television in the ’40s and ’50s.

There are too many great jazz versions of the song to list, and I’ve only included a few of them in this week’s show. Dave Brubeck’s version is a great reworking. The Latin jazz version by Ed Calle, Arturo Sandoval, and Jim Gasior is about as groovy as the song can get. The Ramsey Lewis Trio version is amazing, with great vocalization by Lewis. Duke Pearson’s Blue Note rendition is not as well-known, but his entire holiday album Merry Ole Soul is incredible.

Different Arrangements

One of the most endearing qualities of this simple song is that it is open to so many interpretations. The versions included in this week’s show only scratch the surface of the different arrangements that have been recorded over the years.

Brian Setzer’s arrangement is a modern-day classic and has led to him being synonymous with holiday music in the 21st century.

he never got a haircut, he never took a shave

Frank Sinatra’s arrangement is one of the most imitated over the last sixty years.

Ella Fitzgerald’s arrangement is about as swingin’ as the song can get.

The Reverend T.L. Barrett’s arrangement is a lost gem that is available now thanks to the folks at Tramp Records who have released dozens of collections of lost funk and soul from the ’60s and ’70s. This is my favorite version of the song.

Barbra Streisand’s version is a classic with time changes that always make me laugh.

The big band versions by Count Basie, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington provide three very different arrangements by three of the most important big band arrangers.

Kay Thompson’s Jingle Bells

Kay Thompson lived an amazing life and would be Artist of the Week if this was a normal Faux Show. Her connection to this version of “Jingle Bells” begins with her arrangement being recorded by Andy Williams in 1963 and used in the holiday special of his television show. Thompson mentored the young Williams and had a secret love affair with him from 1947 to 1961. Williams, in turn, mentored The Osmonds (stop the love affair jokes right there, mister) and they were regulars on his television show in the ’60s, which led to their version being recorded for their holiday album in 1976.

dash away, dash away, dash away all

In addition to arranging, Kay Thompson was a singer, vocal coach, composer, musician, dancer, actress, and choreographer. She worked in radio in the ’30s and by the ’40s had moved to Hollywood. She acted and sang in several films throughout the ’40s, but her most famous role was in Funny Face in 1957.

Most important of all of her accomplishments, however, was her writing of the classic children’s book series Eloise. Her Eloise books are still beloved by generation after generation. They tell the story of a young girl living in The Plaza Hotel, where Thompson actually lived, and are possibly based on the childhood of her god-daughter Liza Minnelli.

Artist of the Week: All of Them

Any artist who records holiday music is the artist of the week.

Thanks for listening (and reading)!

Track List

TrackArtistSong Title
1Brian Setzer & The Brian Setzer OrchestraJingle Bells
2Frank SinatraJingle Bells
3The OsmondsKay Thompson’s Jingle Bells
4Rev. T.L. BarrettJingle Bells, Pt. 1
5Rev. T.L. BarrettJingle Bells, Pt. 2
6Ella FitzgeraldJingle Bells
7Barbra StreisandJingle Bells?
8Dalida & Raymond Lefevre et son OrchestreJingle Bells, Vive Le Vent
9Ed Calle, Arturo Sandoval, and Jim GasiorJingle Bells
10Dave Brubeck“Homecoming” Jingle Bells
11Ramsey Lewis TrioJingle Bells
12Johnny Bowtie BarstowJingle Bells
13Fats Waller & His RhythmSwingin’ Them Jingle Bells
14Booker T. and the MG’sJingle Bells
15Roy RichardsJingle Bells
16The Blues MagoosJingle Bells
17The Reverend Horton HeatJingle Bells
18The Partridge FamilyJingle Bells
19Herb Alpert & The Tijuana BrassJingle Bells
20Ferrante and TeicherJingle Bells
21Duke PearsonJingle Bells
22The Count Basie OrchestraJingle Bells
23Bing Crosby & The Andrews SistersJingle Bells
24Johnny MercerJingle Bells
25Jimmy MartinJingle Bells
26Maddox Brothers & Rose (Spotify = Bobby Helms)Jingle Bells
27Arthur Guitar Boogie SmithGuitar Jingle Bells
28Les PaulJingle Bells
29Brenda LeeJingle Bells
30Jose FelicianoJingle Bells
31Mannheim SteamrollerJingle Bells
32The Mormon Tabernacle ChoirJingle Bells
33The ChipmunksJingle Bells
34The Ray Conniff SingersJingle Bells
35Glenn Miller & His OrchestraJingle Bells
36Kenny Davern & Howard AldenJingle Bells
37The RochesJingle Bells
38Too Many ZoosJingle Bells
39Al GreenJingle Bells
40Jumpin’ Jimmy & The MistletonesJingle Bells
41Duke EllingtonJingle Bells

2 thoughts on “Radio Faux Show Volume 1, Number 41 (December 12, 2021): Ring Them Jingle Bells

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