Friday, December 20, 2013

Music Friday: Famed Songwriter Reveals How the Scrapped Song ‘Tinkle Bell’ Became the Holiday Classic ‘Silver Bells’

Welcome to the Christmas Edition of Music Friday when bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we present the original 1951 version of “Silver Bells,” a holiday favorite that was nearly scrapped, according to songwriter Ray Evans.


A 91-year-old Evans revealed to NPR's radio audience in 2006 the "stupid, stupid" backstory of "Silver Bells" and its first, controversial incarnation — “Tinkle Bell.”

Evans and his writing partner, Jay Livingston, were under contract for Paramount Studios when they were assigned to write a Christmas song for The Lemon Drop Kid, a comedy starring Bob Hope. Evans and Livingston believed the world already had too many Christmas songs and were underwhelmed with the task at hand.


Sitting at facing desks in a shared office, the pair was inspired by a little bell that sat on one of the desks. “We said, ‘Ahh, there’s our theme for Christmas. The bell makes a tinkly sound when in rings,'” Evans remembered. “We’ll call the song ‘Tinkle Bell.’”

When Livingston told his wife about the new song, she was astonished by her husband and his partner's stupidity.

“Tinkle bell? Are you out of you mind?” Livingston’s wife said. “You can’t write a Christmas song with the word ‘tinkle’ in it. Don’t you know what tinkle means?"

Jay Livingston said, "I never thought of that."

The next day, Livingston and Evans agreed that the song had to be tossed and the writing partners started working on a brand new song. “We were ready to get rid of ‘Tinkle Bell’ completely,” said Evans, “but we liked with music and a lot of the lyrics. We ended up with the same song we started with, except ‘tinkle’ became ‘silver.’”

“It’s a stupid, stupid story,” Evans continued, “but ignorance is bliss. Our royalties are very, very good.”

The Evans and Livingston collaboration produced a string of hits that included the Oscar-winning "Buttons and Bows," "Mona Lisa" and "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera). They wrote 26 songs that were million-sellers and, in total, recordings of their songs have sold nearly 500 million copies.

“Silver Bells” has been covered by dozens of artists spanning more than 60 years. The neatest of them all is the original performed by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell. At the very beginning of the clip, you will see a street corner Santa played by William Frawley, who was famously Fred Mertz on the classic TV sitcom “I Love Lucy.”

Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Justin Timberlake Halts Concert to Orchestrate Center Stage Marriage Proposal for Louisville Couple

Pop superstar Justin Timberlake took a short break from his concert in Louisville on Sunday to orchestrate an extra special on-stage marriage proposal for a local couple. The 90-second video of Timberlake’s sweet gesture has gone viral with more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.


Timberlake had just completed his hit song, “That Girl,” when he unexpectedly walked to the edge of the stage to chat with mega fan Josh Clemons and his girlfriend, Kim Martin, who were seated in the first row.


“Guys, say hello to Josh! Who do you have with you?” Timberlake asked, as the excited crowd started to sense what was about to happen. “This is Josh and Kim. Why don't y'all make your way over here.”

The couple climbed a few steps and Timberlake led them to center stage at the sold-out KFC Yum! Center.

“Josh called me earlier,” Timberlake told a stunned Martin, who was now in the spotlight in front of 22,000 screaming Timberlake fans. “He's got something he wants to tell you."



Clemons knelt down in front of his girlfriend and proposed with a diamond solitaire ring. Kim said, “Yes," the couple embraced, and the arena erupted. Timberlake applauded, as well.


Pulling off this epic proposal was no easy feat for Clemons, who had purchased tickets for the concert back in June. Despite the thin odds, he pursued an unlikely plan to propose to his girlfriend at the concert — with a big assist from Timberlake.

Originally, he had hoped that Timberlake might dedicate "That Girl" to the couple, and Clemons was prepared to propose to Martin while they were seated in the audience.

Clemons told Fox Louisville affiliate WDRB that it took nearly 100 emails and phone calls to get through to Timberlake’s manager.

Then, only two days before the concert, Clemons recounted the call he’d been hoping for: “The manager said, ‘Justin has a big plan and wants to know if you are ready to do it big,’ and I said, ‘Definitely.’”


Martin told Fox that the whole experience has been surreal. She admitted that she was in total shock when Timberlake pulled her out of the audience on Sunday. “I was like, there is no way, no way this is happening right now,” she said.

Clemons had a message for other romantic guys trying to pull off extreme marriage proposals: “Anything is possible,” he said. “You never know until you try.”

See the viral video of the Louisville Proposal below…

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jay-Z Launches New Fragrance With Interactive Display That Turns NYC Window Gazers Into Liquid Gold

Rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z launched his new fragrance, “Gold,” with a revolutionary interactive display that instantly — and amazingly — turns window gazers into undulating humanoid globules of precious metal.


Introduced at Macy’s flagship store in NYC, the same location made famous by the classic Christmas movie “A Miracle on 34th Street,” the “Liquid Gold” installation uses Microsoft Kinect and facial recognition technology to detect a window shopper that has stopped to view the display.


Once the system locks onto a subject, it renders that person’s silhouette and merges it into the fluid gold simulation. As the shopper moves, so does his rippling, gilded doppelgänger.


Herald Square shoppers lucky enough to be turned to gold were encouraged by the display’s signage to share “selfies” of the experience using the hashtag #JayZGold at Twitter.


Progressive ad agency KBS+ and interactive media company Future Colossal conceived “Liquid Gold” to create a buzz for Jay-Z’s new fragrance for men, which was introduced at the end of November. The “liquid gold” theme also pervades the product’s packaging, print advertising, social media and TV commercials.


Designed by Jay-Z, the fragrance comes in a pure white matte flask branded with the GOLD JAY Z logo in raised gold lettering. Encircling the flask’s gilded cap are the key words describing the essence of the new fragrance: “Power,” “Pride,” “Confidence,” “Strength,” “Success” and “Courage.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

NPR’s 3 Million Sunday Listeners Learn About a Sentimental Jewelry Gift That ‘Knocked It Out of the Park'

A young Ohio woman shared her story about a very sentimental piece of jewelry with the three million listeners of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. In response to the question, “What’s the best holiday gift you have ever received?” Stephanie Soduk of Canton told Sunday host Rachel Martin's radio audience about a special present from her dad that spanned multiple generations.


In her intro, Martin explained that while most holiday gifts are lovely, they’re usually treasured for a while and then relegated to a shelf in the basement. Martin wanted to know more about those rare gifts that "just knocked it out of the park."


Soduk, who is a development executive for a healthcare provider, offered up her story of a gift that actually started out as a pair of diamond earrings that her mom got as a gift from her dad. Soduk’s mom, a tasteful, classy lady, who always liked to look her best, loved the earrings and wore them everywhere, according to her daughter.

But, when Stephanie was only 16 years old, her mother died of breast cancer and the beloved earrings were put into storage.


Five years later, Soduk was celebrating Christmas with her family, and under the tree were two small gift boxes from her dad. One was for her and the other was for her sister, Marianne.

“We opened them [to find] a matching pair of [diamond] necklaces made out of [Mom's] earrings,” she said.

Soduk wears her diamond necklace just about everywhere. She and her sister cherish their necklaces, just like their mom cherished her earrings.

“I'm wearing it right now, actually,” she said. “And it's really neat to me that when somebody compliments it or asks about it, I can tell them a story. And that shares a piece of me. And it's really special.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

Silver Dollar JFK Intended to Flip Before 1963’s Army-Navy Football Game Finally Hits the Turf 50 Years Later

The actual Lady Liberty silver dollar that President John F. Kennedy intended to use for the ceremonial coin toss at the famed Army-Navy football game in 1963 finally hit the turf at Saturday’s Army-Navy contest, 50 years after the beloved president's life was cut short by an assassin's bullet.


For a half century, the coin had been in the possession of Navy football captain Tom Lynch and was out of public view. Recently, he decided to donate it to the Naval Academy and give it a chance to return to the field. Army Secretary Cyrus R. Vance had sent the coin to Lynch as a memento of the 1963 contest.


An avid football fan and World War II Navy hero, Kennedy was looking forward to flipping the 1923 Lady Liberty dollar coin prior to the annual Army-Navy game on November 30, 1963, a contest that was being billed as “The Game of the Year.” As he had done in 1961 and 1962, Kennedy planned to watch the game from the Army side of the field in the first half and then switch to the Navy side for the second.


But, the President never got chance to attend the game because he passed away in Dallas on November 22 — only eight days before the much-anticipated game was set to be played.

The shocked country went into mourning and it was likely that the Army-Navy game would be cancelled, but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and the Kennedy family insisted that the game be played as a fitting tribute to the President who loved football and, especially, the Army-Navy rivalry.


In front of a sell-out crowd of more than 100,000 at Municipal Stadium (later renamed JFK Stadium) in Philadelphia, Kennedy’s favorite Midshipmen prevailed 21-15, as the team held off the Cadets at the Navy 2-yard line while time ran out. The quarterback of the winning team was none other than Heisman Trophy-winner and Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach.


On Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was back in Philadelphia to participate in the ceremonial coin toss before the 114th annual Army-Navy game. In his palm was President Kennedy’s Lady Liberty 1923 silver dollar.

A week after the 1963 contest, Navy captain and linebacker Lynch received an unexpected package from Army Secretary Vance. It contained a silver dollar and a letter from Vance: “Dear Midshipman Lynch, I am forwarding the coin which the late President Kennedy would have used and would have presented to you had he made the toss of the coin at the Army-Navy football game this year. Please accept this memento of a memorable football game.”

"I had the coin in my possession for 50 years and that was long enough,” Lynch said. “That's a piece of Army-Navy game history and I just felt it would be meaningful to give that coin back to the Naval Academy so it could be seen publicly from now on."

Presidents have been attending Army-Navy games since 1901. Teddy Roosevelt started the custom and it has been going strong ever since.