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Helms scores a seasonal classic

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Record single by Bobby Helms: Jingle Bell Rock (1958)

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Here’s why this song should be in your collection!

Jingle Bell Rock” (1958) by Bobby Helms emerges each year as a favorite out of the many secular carols that are sang and played during this season.

The song is a variation on a much older musical tradition. James Lord Pierpont composed “Jingle Bells” in 1857; it was originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh.” Historians believe Pierpont intended to pay a musical salute to the annual sleigh races held on the American Thanksgiving holiday in Medford, Massachusetts, where he lived.

Joseph Carlton Beale, co-writer of “Jingle Bell Rock,” may have been aware of Pierpoint’s inspiration because he was also a Massachusetts man. That may be one reason why “Jingle Bell Rock” starts with a guitar intro by Hank Garland that echoes the “Jingle Bells” chorus.

Helms re-recorded the song several times between 1965 and 1983 for different labels. But his original Rockabilly rendition in 1958 remains the signature version. The song has been covered by dozens of country, rock, R&B, and jazz artists.

This song is available on compilation albums in CD and MP3 format from major vendors. Please consider purchasing it from a local independent record store.

Here’s an interesting fact!

Lyrics in “Jingle Bell Rock” advise the horses to jingle around the clock, a reference to “Rock Around the Clock,” the signature hit by Bill Haley and The Comets. Haley recorded a cover version of “Jingle Bell Rock” in 1968 that was not released until nearly 30 years later.

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