When Jingle Bells was written in the 1850s, it was not a Christmas song. It had nothing to do with the holidays.
``Jingle Bells'' was what you might call pre-Civil War rock 'n' roll. In its seldom-heard original form, it's about having a flashy vehicle, driving it too fast and using it to pick up girls.
``Jingle Bells'' was inspired by the annual sleigh races between Medford Square and Malden Square, and it was written by a rebellious musician with a bad reputation.
In 1857, Jingle Bells was published by Oliver Ditson & Co. in Boston, Pierpont was living in Savannah, Ga. In 1988, Savannah took that fact and ran with it. It anointed itself ``the `Jingle Bells' city of America''
By that time, James had already left home at least once; at 14, he ran away to sea on a ship named ``The Shark'' and sailed as far as California. In Troy, he married Millicent Cowee. When his father took charge of the First Parish Church in Medford, in 1849, James, his wife and their two children came, too. The current pastor, Hank Pierce, is full of information about the Pierponts and is happy to show off an impressive plaque of John (``Poet - Minister - Reformer'') currently stored in the church attic.
In 1857 ``One Horse Open Sleigh'' was published. Two years later it was republished with a snappier title, ``Jingle Bells.'' It wasn't a hit.
For many years, the author of ``Jingle Bells'' was listed as ``Anonymous.''
Rumor has it that Rick Springfield performed a rockin version of this song around the Holidays at EFX.
|Footnote - background was taken during an EFX performance by Renata Hearn|