12+ Blogs of Christmas: “Sleigh Ride”


(Above: You can’t go wrong with Santa Alpert.)

Some of the annual Christmas selections cause problems for radio programmers.  You can’t just play the same songs too close to each other, no matter how many times they were done. While there are some unique versions that stand out, there are some Christmas songs that people expect to hear at the holidays.  “Sleigh Ride” is one of those.  On different occasions I have programmed multiple versions of this song, including:

The Boston Pops.  You can’t go wrong putting a little culture into your radio show.  Besides, this would have to be on my “It’s Not Christmas Until You Hear…” list.

The Ronettes.  The Phil Spector Christmas LP will get its own post.  I have a CD copy for home and vinyl (the Apple re-issue) for my office.  This might just be the definitive version of the song, at least on Oldies radio.

The Ventures. One of the longest-lasting quests for vinyl for me ended in 1989 when I wandered into a record show in Hillside, IL and got my hands on an original copy of “The Ventures Christmas Album.”  Every song on the album opens with a few bars of a popular song, and morphs into a Christmas classic.  In this case, “Walk – Don’t Run” became “Sleigh Ride,” and it’s a thing of art.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  This is an underrated Christmas album, if you can get past the cheesy vocal intros to each of the tracks.  As I said in an earlier post, everyone’s parents had Alpert LPs in the 60s, and there’s a reason for that.

Debbie Gibson.  I’ve never really snuck Deb into this blog, so now that’s done.  Maybe we forget this version?

The Blenders.  OK, this doesn’t really count, since it’s just called “Sleigh Ride,” but it’s really set to “Walk On the Wild Side.”  If you’re programming a Christmas music show, I dare you. I did it on my morning show more than once…

Many more great Christmas classics to come.  Stay tuned!


One thought on “12+ Blogs of Christmas: “Sleigh Ride”

  1. While I’ve never had the task of programming Holiday music for radio consumption, I’ve included the following versions of “Sleigh Ride” on various Merry Mixtapes over the past four decades:

    Stu Hamm. This was included on Merry Axemas 2 – More Guitars For Christmas and features Stu going to town on the bass with some tasty organ behind him. Hamm’s unique take walks the line between rock and jazz quite nicely.

    Ferrante & Teicher. I remember this one as the definitive version growing up though now that I have Dad’s vinyl collection, I cannot find it anywhere so maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe the version I’m thinking of is on one of those Firestone Christmas Albums; maybe I should give them a looking over. I stand corrected – it is the –Leroy Anderson 1952 version I was remembering though I enjoy the 1966 F&T take as well and it is the one I’ve been using.

    Barenaked Ladies. Wherein our boys er Ladies skat for the entire 46 seconds of the song. I enjoy listening to the entire Barenaked For The Holidays at least once every Christmas season to relieve seasonal stress.

    SHEL. New to me in 2016 though it was apparently first released in 2013. Love the voice and the lush instrumentation creating a hazy, dreamy soundscape.


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