Friday, December 10, 2010

Music Friday: My favorite Christmas song

"Sleigh Ride" seems to be most popular in versions with sumptuous female vocals — here's KT Tunstall:

Inevitably, there's a jazz version by Harry Connick, Jr., overflowing with panache. He leaves in a whole section that Tunstall leaves out ("There's a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray . . .").

(Is that Dwight Schrute standing up in the back at 2:15?)

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones give it their virtuosic bluegrass-jazz treatment:

(Did you catch the bassist Victor Wooten's wink at an even more famous Christmas song near the end?)

The original version brings out the brilliance and harmonic adventurousness of the piece (performed here by the Boston Pops):

That version was composed by Leroy Anderson (a master of orchestral candy) in 1946. Mitchell Parish added the lyrics a few years later. Though the title and orchestration make it clear that Anderson did envision a horse-driven sleigh, Wikipedia tells us that he "had the original idea for the piece during a heat wave in July."