By Kate Lillie
Originally published on Global Comment
Like many of the old standards, there are multiple versions of Sleigh Ride, but this is the one I like the best. It’s also consistently popular in the US where it ranks every year in the holiday charts. I definitely notice – in my own Christmas playlist, at least – a divide between the US and the UK songs where the post-1960s songs all seem to be British, with only one or two notable exceptions. It’s almost as though American artists lost interest in making Christmas music after the 1960s until very recently, although of course it’s possible that Bing Crosby had simply oversaturated the marketplace. And similarly there are very few British Christmas songs from the 1960s or before – the Brits don’t seem to get into Christmas pop mode until the 1970s but when they get going, they really get going, as we have already seen in some of the advent calendar entries.
Anyway, I digress. The Ronettes were one of the original 1960s girl groups, with a series of perfect pop hits to their name – including, most famously, Be My Baby, and were produced by Phil Spector, who later went on to produce the Beatles. He later still went on to be convicted of murder and sent to prison, where he remains to this day, but for today we’ll just concentrate on the music.
Sleigh Ride features Spector’s trademark ‘Wall of Sound’ production technique with lush vocals and remains a lighthearted, happy frolic through the season. The Ronettes had more than one Christmas hit, including I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, which I always thought was a vaguely comical notion when I was a child. Now I’m grown up I still think it’s a great song but slightly creepy when you think that it’s about a child who thinks they’ve witnessed their parent caught in an adulterous moment (with Santa, no less!) – but then I guess that’s the weird and wonderful world of Christmas pop for you.
Enjoy Sleigh Ride and don’t forget to come back for tomorrow’s selection!