It’s a very sunny, cloudless day in Southern California. It’s not very Christmas-y weather, but sometimes this is about as Christmas-y as we get. It’s a day like this that makes listening to Christmas music somewhat difficult: I’m not always going to be in the mood for Der Bingle when it’s eighty-five degrees out. However, the Christmas music genre reaches far and wide, encompassing all other musical genres at one point or another.
Case in point: The Ventures’ 1965 Christmas Album-opener “Sleigh Ride.” The Ventures always know how to put their distinctive stamp on any song they play, whether it’s their own or a cover. How many other bands can you name that always put their own instantly recognizable twist on any cover song they did? (Granted, The Ventures only had one twist. But, like The Ramones and The Softies, it was a great twist and they nailed it every single time.)
If “Sleigh Ride” wasn’t already a Christmas classic, one could easily hear it as another great Ventures tune. In fact, if it wasn’t for the sleigh bells and the glockenspiel throughout, it might not even sound like a Christmas song at all. (Listen to how dangerous that guitar sounds at 1:52!) It is, however, a Christmas song, and a great one at that. It’s perfect for days like this in a place where, if you wanted to, you could surf all day long on Christmas.
Ah, this is one of few Christmas songs I don’t find unbearably annoying, probably because it wasn’t played to death by local radio stations like Last Christmas. My favoutire versions are by Andy Williams and Ella Fitzgerald.