Lately, my 0515 alarm clock has been going off to Lite 105, a local station that  starts playing Christmas music in early November (it’s the only station that my alarm clock will pull in anymore) This is just wrong, and should be stopped by Congressional decree.

Of course, that would be way too controversial for those guys. They would have to summon the courage to commit to a cause, and by blatantly siding with the Christmas people, may disenfranchise the Hindus, Muslims, Satanists, Wiccans, and Kardashians who may opt to vote them out of office in the next election cycle. And there you have it… American politics in a nutshell.

Any way… I awoke this morning to ” Sleigh Bells ” .  To jar your memory…” Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…” Yes, that one.

And as is my habit, I lie there procrastinating as long as humanly possible, trying to avoid the distasteful reality of real life…. then dash up and try to make it to work on time. This, BTW, is precisely why so many coffee cups have gone flying off the roof of my car over the decades.

But this morning I had occasion to actually listen to ” Sleigh Bells” in some detail; and realized that the composer must have been a truly cruel and unusual person. Because ” Sleigh Bells” is really a viciously difficult piece of music to execute. It would be hard to carry that melody through on an instrument, never mind singing it.

Composed in  July 1948 by Leroy Anderson in Woodbury, Connecticut during a heat wave, it is far and away the most-performed/recorded/covered Christmas song of all time.

Leroy said that it didn’t start out as a Christmas song at all. It was just really, really hot that day. Pure escapism on his part. He’s not quite sure how the Christmas connection was made, but he certainly capitalised on it. Along with everyone else in the music business.

This contradicts my theory that all Christmas music came from one of two places; either from Protestant hymnals, or very talented Jewish guys from New York.

Should you take the time to listen closely, you might notice the very fast -paced melody, with much movement in it. Very sleigh-ride sort of thing, I would imagine.

There are some very difficult passages. There is a certain part that often gets changed by the parties attempting it, and in the most -heard most- popular version by Johny Mathis , it is omitted altogether.

None theless, it’s been covered a million times.

I can just imagine a large choir doing this piece, with the occasional white robe disappearing off the riser due to lack of oxygen, and being unceremoniously dragged off to the side, where EMTs are kept on standby.

I have to think that Leroy certainly was aware of the beast he was planning to release on Christmas revelers the world over. Christmas carolers passing out, and spilling scalding hot chocolate on their fellows.

And yet it sounds so light and airy to the casual listener. It’s supposed to sound that way.

Especially when it gets to that frightening passage in the bridge that singers are terrified of- and then it modulates up a half-step. That’s when the whole back row of the choir goes careening off the riser.

Merry Christmas!… from your friend Leroy.

Maybe I should buy a new clock radio…

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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