Silver Bells

"Silver Bells" is a popular Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

"Silver Bells"
Song by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers
ReleasedOctober 1950 (1950-10)
Songwriter(s)Jay Livingston, Ray Evans

"Silver Bells" was first sung by William Frawley, then sung in its entirety and in the generally-known version immediately after by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, filmed in July–August 1950 and released in March 1951.[1] The first recorded version was by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards on September 8, 1950 with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra and the Lee Gordon Singers[2] which was released by Decca Records in October 1950.[3] After the Crosby and Richards recording became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back in late 1950 to refilm a more elaborate production of the song.[1]


"Silver Bells" started out as "Tinkle Bells." Said Ray Evans, "We never thought that tinkle had a double meaning until Jay went home and his first wife said, 'Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word tinkle is?'" The word is slang for urination.[4]

This song's inspiration has conflicting reports. Several periodicals and interviews cite the writer Jay Livingston stating that the song's inspiration came from the bells used by sidewalk Santa Clauses and Salvation Army solicitors on New York City street corners.[5][6][7] However, in an interview with NPR co-writer Ray Evans said that the song was inspired by a bell that sat on an office desk shared by Livingston and himself.[8]

The song charted in the United Kingdom for the first time in 2009 when a duet by Terry Wogan and Aled Jones recorded for charity reached the Top 40, peaking at no. 27.[6]


  1. "The Lemon Drop Kid" in The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures (online database).
  2. "A Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  3. "Record Reviews", Billboard, October 28, 1950, p. 40.
  4. Furia, Philip & Lasser, Michael (2006). America's Songs: The Stories Behind the Songs of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Routledge. p. 233.
  5. "Livingston & Evans, 1951 – Livingston & Evans". Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  6. "Silver Bells by Bing Crosby". SongFacts. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  7. American Songwriter Magazine. July–August 1988. We wrote a song called 'Tinkle Bell,' about the tinkly bells you hear at Christmas from the Santa Clauses and the Salvation Army people. We said 'this is it, this will work for the picture,' so I took it home and played it for my wife. She said 'you wrote a song called 'Tinkle Bell'? Don't you know that word has a bathroom connotation?' So I went back to Ray the next day and told him we had to throw the song out, and we did.
  8. "What's in a Song? 'Silver Bells'". NPR. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
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