Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride [PHOTOS/VIDEOS]
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) has named “Sleigh Ride” the most popular Christmas song for 2010 and 2011! But, is it really a Christmas song?
Composer Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) came up with the original concept for the song during a heat wave in August 1946! He finished his original composition in February 1948.
Lyrics, about a person who would like to take a sleigh ride with a friend on a crisp winter day, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950 (Parish would write lyrics for other Anderson songs, including “The Syncopated Clock”).
“Sleigh Ride” was first recorded by the Boston Pops Orchestra and conductor Arthur Fiedler, in 1949. Then, it was a Red Seal RCA Victor 78-rpm record. The first 45-rpm release was on red vinyl! The song has become a signature piece for the Boston Pops, and has been recorded many times by the orchestra over the years.
Composer Leroy Anderson recorded his own instrumental version of “Sleigh Ride” on the Decca label in 1950 (issued as a 78-rpm and 45-rpm single). It was a best-seller when re-released in 1952.
Although “Sleigh Ride” (the 1959 version, above) is often associated with Christmas, and appears on Christmas compilation albums, the song’s lyrics never specifically mention any holiday or religion (unless changed by a specific artist, like the Carpenters). In truth, the mention of “pumpkin pie” in the last verse might suggest more of an association with Thanksgiving than Christmas!
ASCAP consistently ranks “Sleigh Ride” in the top-10 list of songs (radio airplay) during the Christmas season, WORLDWIDE.
And although it has been recorded by a wide variety of artists over the years…
…the most played version of “Sleigh Ride” is……the original instrumental as recorded by its composer, Leroy Anderson!
I have warm memories of Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” as played on the family stereo turntable as a child! (Yes, there was a nickel taped to the tone arm, so the needle wouldn’t skip!) Those happy childhood memories come flooding back EVERY time I play this classic “Ho-Ho-Hit” on New Jersey 101.5!