One of my absolute favorite Christmas songs comes in two forms – orchestral and pop. Like many the classics, its original conception came during a blazing hot summer in the 1940s. Although composer Leroy Anderson did not in fact finish it until the following February. The earliest orchestral version was recorded with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops in 1949.
What makes Sleigh Ride a piece unlike so many others is its extensive use of the percussion section for not only rhythm, but also remarkable sound effects. Given that my own Grandpa was a trained percussionist under Sousa, that probably explains why I love this song so much.
The song was given new life in 1963 when the Ronettes recorded the first pop version using lyrics written by Mitchell Parish in 1950. Since that early recording, many other artists have gone on to create their own versions. The lyrics recall the joys of winter fun.
I feel I should acknowledge that today is just a very messy day. Outside my own window the rain is pouring down. In other parts of our country people are reeling from the devastation to their homes and businesses and churches yesterday. Everything just feels in disarray. For some, this song may feel too peppy, which is reasonable (and I have a whole bunch of other posts I can recommend for resting in hurt when it is needed).
For me, I have been sitting in my own pain for a very long time and today I need a little reminder of the hope that does lie ahead. That is what this song does for me. For those of you who want that little bit of lift, I give you Sleigh Ride.