By THE ENTHUSIAST
Come On, It’s Lovely Weather For A Sleigh Ride Together With You
Readers who have been following these posts throughout the month (and The Enthusiast thanks you both) will have long since noted that a surprising number of Christmas songs were written in the dog days of summer. "Sleigh Ride" (1948) is yet another tune conceived in a heat wave. "A composer seldom gets ideas for music from his environment," composer Leroy Anderson noted. "Ideas come from inside his head and it makes little difference where his body happens to be.”
We’re Gliding Along With A Song Of A Wintery Fairyland
Anderson wrote "Sleigh Ride" in Woodbury, Connecticut. Props to the east coast! With every other Christmas song seemingly written on the outskirts of Los Angeles, it’s nice to know that Anderson might actually have seen a snowflake or two in his time. And, hey, who knows – maybe even a sleigh.
Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling
"Sleigh Ride" is all but unique in the Christmas canon for having originally been written and released as an instrumental; Mitchell Parish didn’t add the lyrics until two years later. The first instrumental version was recorded by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the first version with vocals by the Andrews Sisters.
One of the lyrics was a throwback even when it was written:
There's a happy feeling Nothing in this world can buy When they pass around the coffee And the pumpkin pie It'll nearly be like a picture print By Currier and Ives
The famous printmaker had already been out of business for more than 40 years when Parish wrote those lines. Doubtless most listeners now assume that ‘"picture print" is a download of some sort, and "Currier and Ives" are a Tik-Tok sensation.
Good Hay, Sweet Hay, Hath No Fellow
A blog by the Parker Symphony Orchestra in Colorado relates a charming curtain-call tradition. "Sleigh Ride" concludes with a trumpet mimicking the whinny of a horse followed by the crack of a whip. When the orchestra take a bow at the end of the performance, the trumpeter who played the whinny is presented with a bunch of carrots.
Number twenty in a series.
20 December 2020
The Enthusiast (email@example.com) is the pen name of critic Michael Collins. He reports back only on what’s good, never what’s bad. He is currently imbued with the holiday spirit.