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Christmas Classic ‘Silver Bells’ Co-Written by Salamanca Man

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I think if I asked the New 96.1 Joy FM listeners what their favorite Christmas song was, I’d get a lot of different choices. Fair enough; everybody has one. But what if I suggested that Western New York might have an “official” Christmas song?

Ray Evans [pictured above] was born and raised in the Southern Tier community of Salamanca. He went on to a long and successful career as a songwriter, usually providing the lyrics for longtime collaborator Jay Livingston. Among their many notable efforts were the themes for TV’s Bonanza and Mr. Ed  They also wrote music for Broadway. But their specialty was writing for movies, earning three Academy Awards for “Best Song” during their long career.

Among the many movies they wrote for was the 1951 comedy The Lemon Drop Kid. Although it was filmed in 1950, and set at Christmas, it wasn’t released until March of ’51. But one of the three Livingston-Evans numbers has caught on a Christmas classic:

[someonehasposted, via YouTube]

(By the way, the Santa at the beginning of the clip is none other than William Frawley, better known as “Fred Mertz” in the classic TV sitcom I Love Lucy )

Bing Crosby had the original hit version [it came out in late 1950, even before the movie]. Other singers who’ve recorded it run the gamut from Johnny Mathis to Kenny G, Stevie Wonder to Bob Dylan [!].

No, there is no “official” WNY Christmas song. But we could do worse than “Silver Bells”…

That said, I just want to wish our listeners a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012!


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