Today on “Days to Remember” I wanted to write about a Christmas tunes that we love and share during the holiday season called, “Sleigh Ride,” which happens to be my favorite holiday tune, but who wrote this infamous tune?
“Sleigh Ride” is a popular light orchestral piece composed by Leroy Anderson. The composer had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July 1946; he finished the work in February 1948.
Though it was originally an instrumental piece, lyrics, about a person who would like to ride in a sleigh on a winter’s day with another person, were written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. The orchestral version was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
Who was Leroy Anderson?
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Swedish parents, Anderson was given his first piano lessons by his mother, who was a church organist. He continued studying piano at the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1925 Anderson entered Harvard University, where he continued studying at Harvard, working towards a PhD in German and Scandinavian languages; Anderson spoke English and Swedish during his youth and eventually became fluent in Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, German, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
At the time he was working as organist and choir director at the East Milton Congregational Church, leading the Harvard University Band, and conducting and arranging for dance bands around Boston.
In 1936 his arrangements came to the attention of Arthur Fiedler, who asked to see any original compositions that he could use to make the concerts he gave as the 18th conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA more enjoyable for his audiences there.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Leroy Anderson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1620 Vine Street. In 1975, Anderson died of cancer in Woodbury, Connecticut and was buried there.
Today’s YouTube presentation brought to you by user name, Nigel Fowler Sutton, in this great slide show presentation of the song called, “Sleigh Ride.”
According to ASCAP, this was the most-played holiday song on American radio from 2009-2012, beating out “Winter Wonderland,” “The Christmas Song” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
If you live in the West and in a good number of countries otherwise around the world, chances are very high that you’ll recognize this first stanza of the iconic American Christmas song called ‘Sleigh Ride’ composed by Leroy Anderson with lyrics written by Mitchell Parish.
It was the era of 45 rpm and 78 rpm vinyl records, and the song became a hit record for the RCA Victor Red Seal and grew to become the Boston Pops Orchestra’s signature song.
A year after the piece was first performed, Mitchell Parish wrote his lyrics for the song, which were about a person wanting to go for a sleigh ride with someone on a winter’s day.
Although ‘Sleigh Ride’ is generally played most around Christmas and often appears on Christmas compilation albums, the lyrics never specifically mention Christmas or any religious observance.
In fact, the pumpkin pie talked about in the fifth stanza of the song is suggestive of Thanksgiving more than of Christmas.
Whether or not its composer and lyricist intended it as a Christmas song, “Sleigh Ride” is consistently ranked in the top 10 list of most performed songs during the Christmas season around the world according to the review of Christmas music issued by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
It’s one my favorite songs to hear at Christmas time but I like hearing without the words to the song for some reason.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell