• Joel Brown

    Staff Writer

    Portrait of Joel Brown. An older white man with greying brown hair, beard, and mustache and wearing glasses, white collared shirt, and navy blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey background.

    Joel Brown is a staff writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. He’s written more than 700 stories for the Boston Globe and has also written for the Boston Herald and the Greenfield Recorder. Profile

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There are 6 comments on “Jingle Bells” History Takes Surprising Turn

  1. This was a great bit of gritty historical research. As I tell my students the truth is almost always more complex and ideologically inconvenient than the myths we cherish.

  2. “The Star Spangled Banner” historical background is even MORE complex, yet I LOVE Igor Stravinsky’s arrangement of the anthem. He made an arrangement of the anthem after he became an American citizen in 1944. The Boston Police was on hand at Symphony Hall to arrest him for desecrating our national anthem! By the way, his arrangement is less difficult to sing!

  3. Jingle Bells was written in Medford MA. There were no sleigh rides in Georgia where snow is scarce. He was walking along Salem St. and the song came to him . He went into Mrs. Waterman’s Tavern to use the piano to poke out the tune running through his mind!
    He was not a very nice human being. He did abandon his family.

  4. Nice story on some worthwhile research. Of course, if I could bring back one composer from the grave, it’d be Schubert, to finish his unfinished symphony.

  5. So please explain how the song is racest? Mearly performing in black face, which was a norm then, or fighting for the south, in of it self does not make the song a racist song. The Civil War was not about slavery alone but rather state vs. federal powers. That does not make this song racist. Where there alternative lyrics?

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