It’s Christmastime even where it’s not wintry

“Silver Bells” by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, sung by Colbie Callait:

Video posted by Rita Spencer; audio posted by Colbie Caillat-Topic, “Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group International.”

And here is the same song as sung by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the movie for which the song was written, The Lemon Drop Kid:

Video posted by TCBNS. (Clip comes complete with visual “jokes” based on ethnic stereotypes; the movie came out in 1951, which is no sort of an excuse but is an explanation of sorts, alas.)

“Silver Bells” was frequently referred to by Livingston as “our annuity.” The title, by the way, was originally “Tinkle Bells.”

[I pause while you take that in.]

Then Livingston went home and told his wife about their new song and she said, “Are you out of your mind? Do you know what the word ‘tinkle’ means to most people?” They changed the title (and lyrics) to “Silver Bells” forthwith.

Jay Livingston (born Jacob Levison) and Ray Evans were both born in 1915 and were both Jewish. They met in the University of Pennsylvania and, in the words of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, “began a lifelong collaboration that would become one of the legendary songwriting partnerships in the history of American popular music.”

Together they won three Oscars for Best Original Song–for “Buttons and Bows,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Que Sera, Sera“–and were nominated for four more. They wrote the songs and scores for dozens of films and the theme and title songs for many TV shows, including Bonanza:

(The notes on the video say the song was written by someone else and only performed by Livingston and Evans, but that is incorrect.)

and Mr. Ed:

Of course.

According to their official website, the two of them “have had twenty-six songs that have sold…a million records or more, and the total record sales of their songs has exceeded 400 million.”


FOOTNOTE: You can find a far more extensive joint bio on their website, plus songs and award lists and so on, so if your interest has been piqued, you definitely want to check it out.