Song: Revised tune of Jingle Bells

“Late one morning, early that night, two dead boys began no fight, back to back, they faced each other, through their swords, they shot each other, two dead policeman heard the noise, and started to chase the two dead boys, one went around the corner in the middle of the block, the other ran up into the short building in a vacant lot.”

Terry told me that he learned this version of the jingle bells tune when he was a child at Catholic grade school in a town of about thirty thousand people in the middle of the cornfields in Iowa. He said that he and his buddies were always teaching each other these little songs that they had learned from other people. When he was a child, they would always play little games and sing songs to keep themselves entertained throughout the day. The students would sing loud and jump around to make sure that whoever was around watched their performance. Terry told me that this song is not primarily sung during the winter months like the original jingle bells tune. Instead, it was sung all throughout the year whenever the children wanted to sing it. However, he did say that a good time to sing this song would be at recess, where many of the kids are playing outside on the playground. This was a good time because students were not in the classroom so they were not disrupting class by singing it.

Terry says that this song really does not have any meaning to it. Instead, it just rhymes and flows nicely within the song itself. He said that he really never thought about what the words actually meant in broader themes. He just always thought it was clever but it did not make any sense whatsoever. He thinks that at this age, kids are always relating their stories and songs to things they are interested in.

I agree with Terry along the lines that this version of jingle bells does not make much sense. However, I do believe that the reason the children sang this song was to feel rebellious by singing about death and cops. A very common game amongst youth is “cops and robbers.” The purpose of this game is that the cops are chasing the robbers with toy guns and handcuffs. So, there is a possibility that this song helps reiterate that purpose. As Terry mentioned, kids like to sing songs about activities they are interested in. By singing about dead boys and policeman, they are showing their ability to relate songs to games. Children always say “you’re dead” and “I shot you” while playing cops and robbers. I think this song helps reflect their liking of fake shooting games because it gives them a chance to play and sing with their friends.