"Silver Bells" is a classic Christmas song, composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. The lyrics are unusual for one in that they describe the holiday in the city and not a rural setting, as it was inspired by the imagery of Salvation Army bell ringers standing outside department stores during the Christmas season.
The song was first performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, filmed in July-August 1950 but released in March 1951. The first recorded version was by Bing Crosby and Carol Richards, released in October 1950. After it became popular, Hope and Maxwell were called back in the late 1950 to refilm a more elaborate production of it, and would later become a holiday tradition (as much as Hope's regular theme "Thanks for the Memories") to sing it with a female performer on his annual Christmas TV specials.
The song started out as the questionable "Tinkle Bells." Said 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 a child's slang for urination.)
- City sidewalks busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style
- In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
- Children laughing people passing meeting smile after smile
- And on every street corner you'll hear
- Silver bells silver bells
- It's Christmas time in the city
- Ring a ling hear them ring
- Soon it will be Christmas Day
- Strings of street lights even stop lights blink a bright red and green
- As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
- Hear the snow crunch see the kids bunch this is Santa's big scene
- And above all this bustle you'll hear
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