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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

The music of Christmas-Jingle Bells

The music of Christmas

Today I begin highlighting Christmas music, a different Christmas song every day for 25 days from now until Christmas.

Put them all together and you have my musical Christmas card to you.

We open with a bang.

Who doesn’t know and love Jingle Bells!

Written by James Pierpont in 1857, that’s right, 1857, Jingle Bells isn’t really a Christmas song. It just became one.

Music historian Bill Edwards writes:

“James Pierpont was one of six children of the well known poet John Pierpont, and uncle of the well known fortune builder J. P. (James Pierpont) Morgan. During the Civil War he defied his abolitionist father's wishes and promoted the Confederate cause with anti-Yankee tunes. But that was later. Jingle Bells was allegedly composed as early as 1850. It was first published by Boston publisher Oliver Ditson in 1857 as The One Horse Open Sleigh. In the following two years it gained such popularity that it was reprinted with identical plates and a new cover sporting the title that the public had chosen for it, Jingle Bells. Not only did American music consumers and performers quickly adopt this song, but they collectively made editorial changes to the melody in the chorus, leaving the verse more or less intact. By 1900, the familiar melody we know today was well established.”

Another story has Jingle Bells being written by Pierpont as a Thanksgiving song. Pierpont composed the song in 1857 for children celebrating his Boston Sunday School Thanksgiving. The song was so popular that it was repeated at Christmas.

Jingle Bells trivia:

Bobtail, contrary to a continually perpetuated falsehood, is not the name of the horse. It refers to an animal, a horse in this case, with a bobbed or very short tail, desirable for pulling a sleigh with low tackle, thus avoiding tail entanglement.

Here’s a jazzy version of this Christmas finger-snapper from Canadian singer Diana Krall:

Pretty classy.

But let's do one more.

Only this time, let's pick up the tempo even more, shall we.

Hold on to your hats.

Dig this wild version by the Brian Setzer Orchestra: 

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on Bobtail ring (Or Hear our voices ring)
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing (Or What fun it is to ride and sing)
A sleighing song tonight

|: Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun [joy] it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh. :|

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we [we—we] got upset.
|: chorus :| A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
|: chorus :| Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls along
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead.
|: chorus :|

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