The 12 Days of Christmas Music in 2014, Day 3: Upsot

Word of the day: “upsot” from “Jingle Bells”

Performed by Barbra Streisand

 

I’m posting a bit later today because, rather poetically, I got upsot by a head cold. So I’m taking a bit of a bye and linking you to the post that inspired this whole etymological theme for me right here. The author does a terrific job leading you through what “upsot” means and who has used it in the second verse of “Jingle Bells.” Give it a read.

Barbra uses “upsot.” She even highlights its oddness, repeating it like she wonders what in the world she has just sung. I wonder if this is part of the reason the album listing on this song is “Jingle Bells?” ending with a question mark. It may also be because she’s kinda all over the place. I like the way she plays with the rhythms, turning it into a light waltz on the second verse that alternates with the quick duple meter and then stays in the waltz form where she starts changing keys in an upward spiral to the bridge. For the big finish she pulls out super triplets, changing up the meter yet again. So basically, Barbra takes “Jingle Bells” and makes it upsot through rewritten meters, rhythms, and tempos.

By the by, if you’re in New York, you can stop by the Morgan Library and see a first edition copy of the song. James Pierpont, who wrote “Jingle Bells” (originally called “One Horse Open Sleigh”) in 1857, was the uncle of the banking giant John Pierpont Morgan.

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