Pages Navigation Menu

Start With Something That's True

From “Tinkle Bell” To “Silver Bells”?

From “Tinkle Bell” To “Silver Bells”?

This is the world’s best example of being too close to a song to hear some of the possible issues with it.

In being so focused on a single aspect of what the songwriters were trying to avoid, they almost created a Christmas song that would have been hilariously funny – but likely a flop.

Instead, it went from toilet training reference to Christmas hit!

Lesson Here: Get Opinions!


Jay Livingston and Ray Evans didn’t think writing a Christmas song for Bob Hope’s The Lemon-Drop Kid, which took place in New York during Christmas, was a good idea.

They argued that everyone sang the old ones, and new songs never made it. The studio insisted, so reluctantly, they wrote one.silver bells g4rammy

As they describe the genesis of the song to Paul Zollo in his book Songwriters On Songwriting, it was written in 3/4 time – unusual for a Christmas song, with the verse and chorus written so they could be sung together.


It was titled “Tinkle Bell,” trying to find a Christmas-themed title but not too close to “Jingle Bells.”

Fortunately, Jay Livingston showed it to his wife who remarked, “You must be out of your mind. You can’t use that title. It has a toilet meaning!”

After throwing out the whole song, they continued to steal from their original composition until they ended up with the same song – just a different title – “Silver Bells.”


Martina McBride “Silver Bells” Lyric Video



Original Version From The Lemon-Drop Kid



More About “Silver Bells”



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest