Billy F. Gibbons is ushering in the spirit of the holidays with the release of his unique version of “Jingle Bells.” Retitled “Jingle Bell Blues,” it was recorded by the ZZ Top guitar hero in Nashville over the summer by Gibbons and Michael Fiorentino.
“It dawned on us that everybody loves Christmas music,” says Billy of the new release, “and everybody loves the Jimmy Reed blues vibe so we figured we’d combine them. We threw in some hot rod references for good measure because our preferred sleigh is the horsepower-propelled kind. Have mercy and happy holidays.”
The jingling, slow blues rendition is the latest chapter in the 150-year-plus story of the Christmas favorite, composed by James Lord Pierpoint and published in 1857.
The song, though originally written for a Thanksgiving event, has been associated with Christmas almost since it was first published. The song had broad appeal in the 19th century for young and old alike because “sleighing” was a holiday pastime. The broad streets of Boston were a warm Christmas memory for Pierpoint – an experience that many of those generations could identify with.
It does not mention Christmas even one time. But the image of snow and the jingle of bells is a forever Christmas thing. The fact that the song is ultimately about driving fast and picking up girls is somehow completely appropriate now that it has come full circle with this new Gibbons rendition.
Gibbons’ third solo album Hardware, which he produced with Fiorentino and Matt Sorum, was released by Concord in June. It reached the UK Top 20, No.1 on the UK’s Rock & Metal albums chart, and hit the Top 10 in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Finland, and elsewhere.
Classic Rock wrote of the set: “As befits the craftsman he’s always been, he’s taken the time and trouble to fashion a bunch of songs worthy of standing alongside anything in his catalogue. Hats off.” Added Uncut: “For all Gibbons’ often intriguing meandering from his usual path, on Hardware and elsewhere in his solo career, there remains little doubt about what he does best.”