Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 4

music by Leroy Anderson, lyrics added by Mitchell Parish,
and performed (mercifully) by Sam Bush

I know what you're all thinking...

"She's cracked.  She HATES this piece.  And it's not even Monday yet..."

You're right.

I am.  I do.  And it isn't.

This piece is all wrong for me.  The words don't even mention Christmas.  They sing about pumpkin pie, which is actually more of a reference to Thanksgiving, for crying out loud.

But the words (which weren't actually penned for the tune until two years after it had been published and performed as a purely orchestral arrangement) aren't the only thing that is annoying about this piece.

The composer began writing "Sleighride" during a heatwave in July, 1946. Presumably, even he found the whole project so unbearable, it took him nearly two years to finish the damn thing-- which he finally did, in February, 1948. 

(Probably just in time for Valentine's Day.  I'd be willing lay a bet.)

Admit it, though-- the art work I've found for today is interesting.  

(Do you have any IDEA how hard it is to come up with an illustration of a Christmas Carrot?!)


I actually like Sam Bush's guitar and mandolin arrangement.  The sound of it makes me think of the work of another artist I particularly admire:  the great Django Reinhardt.

So I began searching for something-- ANYTHING-- interesting to say about this piece, besides the usual complaint that normally, I hate the sound of it, right down to the fake whip-cracking and the last jingle bell.

As you may know, in the very last few bars of the orchestral version, there is a part for trumpet that IF done properly (and that's a big "if"), sounds very much like the whinnying of a horse.

In the early days of this piece, it was apparently traditional for the trumpet player who performed this part to be allowed a special "curtain call" of his own.  At the end of the performance, the conductor would single him out with a gesture, and the trumpet player would make a spectacularly exaggerated bow.

As he arose from this posture, he was ceremoniously presented with...

An enormous bouquet of carrots.

(And that's not Christmassy at all, either.  More Easter.  Just sayin'...)

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