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The Melody Lingers On: Sleigh Ride

"It's hard to imagine that someone wrote Sleigh Ride," remarked one listener. "It's as though it came from the ether. Sleigh Ride is one of those pieces of music that has always been around; just another wonderful part of everyday life..."

In the latest in his tuneful and gloriously readable series, Tony Thornton turns the spotlight on Leroy Anderson's classicaly seasonal tune.

Take a break from Christmas preparations. Accept Tony's challenge. Do your hearty best to fit the words to Anderson's rapidly changing melody.

In May 1952, a lovely instrumental piece with a sweeping melody called Blue Tango reached number one in the Hit Parade. Lyrical, with a driving tango rhythm, the piece captured the spirit of an era. People whistled Blue Tango on street corners and in taxi cabs - and danced the night away. It was such a huge hit that when the top songs for the year were compiled, it was second only to a song by Johnnie Ray.

It was written by Leroy Anderson who is best known for creating a musical style so unique that it goes by his own name - a form of classical pop best exemplified by orchestral miniatures such as The Typewriter and The Syncopated Clock where he incorporates gadgets as solo instruments. In Sandpaper Ballet he used three grades of sandpaper to get the effect exactly right.

He also composed the captivating Serenata and the haunting Forgotten Dreams.

The most famous of his melodies came to him in the middle of an August heat wave. His mind wandered back to his childhood in New England in the early years of the century. A time when the countryside in winter was blanketed in snow and when frost turned the trees to silver.

He remembered the horse-drawn sleighs with their passengers muffled against the cold. In his mind he heard the sounds of the horses and the crack of the driver's whip and recreated these sounds in the studio.

On the recording, a member of the orchestra jingled the bells while the crack of the whip was made by strapping together two pieces of wood. At the end, the whinny of the horse was imitated by a trumpet with the valves half closed.

During Christmas it has become the most popular orchestral piece of all time.

"It's hard to imagine that someone wrote Sleigh Ride," remarked one listener. "It's as though it came from the ether. Sleigh Ride is one of those pieces of music that has always been around; just another wonderful part of everyday life."

The words were written by Mitchell Parish (Blue Tango, Stardust) and capture the mood perfectly. You can test them out at:

http://www.leroy-anderson.com/

They are not easy to fit into the rapidly changing melody but your heart will soar as you try.


Sleigh Ride

Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing
Ring ting tingle-ing too
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

Outside the snow is falling
And friends are calling "You Hoo"
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you

Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap let's go
Let's look at the show
We're riding in a wonderland of snow
Giddy-yap giddy-yap giddy-yap it's grand
Just holding your hand
We're gliding along with the song of a wintry fairy land

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

There's a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray
It'll be the perfect ending of a perfect day
We'll be singing the songs we love to sing without a single stop
At the fireplace while we watch the chestnuts pop
Pop! Pop! Pop!

There's a happy feeling nothing in the 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
These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives

Our cheeks are nice and rosy and comfy cozy are we
We're snuggled up together like two birds of a feather would be
Let's take the road before us and sing a chorus or two
Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you

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