It’s possible to hate the creator but love the creation. It’s often hard for humans to separate the art from the artist. Bill Cosby and Woody Allen are two recent examples of people hating the artist (for the things they have or haven’t done) but yet we’ll all still watch Cosby Show reruns or a Woody Allen movie.
After reading this article about the creator of the beloved Xmas song Jingle Bells, I’m finding it really hard to like the song because he was an absolute dick.
His name is James Lord Pierpont and he was a drunk, a dead beat dad, a scam artist and pretty much a massive asshole. Here are some facts about Pierpont that will change the way you look at Jingle Bells.
Jingle Bells Is About Illegal Street Races
I always imagined the sleigh rides to be delightful rides through falling snow. Nope. It was basically The Fast & Furious in olden days.
Kyna Hamill, professor of literature at Boston University and vice-president of the Medford Historical Society, explained to the CBC that the “sleigh rides” in the song were actually dangerous street races up and down Salem Street. “Medford is home to a series of sleigh races that used to occur on a street called Salem Street, and because of this event, which pretty much happened in the middle of the 19th century, these sleigh races — which you could pretty much call drag races — down this street was one of the most popular events,” said Hamill. “Because of that, the influence and inspiration of the song, we believe came from those races.”
James Lord Was Actually A Huge Douche Lord
James Lord wasn’t the nicest guy around. Not even close. “He’s kind of a jerk, actually. He would leave all of the time. He went out west to try to make his way with the gold rush. He went all over the place and left his wife with his father,” said Hamill.
When his wife dropped dead, he quickly remarried and abandoned his kids. “He didn’t come, apparently, to his first wife’s funeral. He’s sort of not a nice guy.”
Jingle Bells Was Originally A Drinking Song
Yup. The beloved Christmas song sung by millions of children every holiday is actually about getting slammed and drag racing up and down a busy street. Oh what fun!
“If you think about the fact that one of the great industries of Medford was rum-making, and if you really think about the lyrics of the song, with the lens that these are drag races that are happening at top speed down the centre of this street, one of the suggestions is that it’s actually a drinking song,” Hamill said. “Some of the words are actually associated with the idea that this is a song you sing while you’re drunk, talking about an event that happened while they were drunk.”
So how the hell did Jingle Bells become a beloved Christmas classic? Because James Lord Pierpont was always a scammer — even in church. “The theory stems from the fact that when Pierpont’s first wife died, he moved to Savannah, married the mayor’s daughter, and became pastor at the church. During a Thanksgiving service, he led the congregation in a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells. They loved it, and he performed it again a month later at Christmas.”
Well, my holiday is ruined. If I find out White Christmas is about a guy doing a ton of blow I might never celebrate the holidays the same again.