Remembering Leroy Anderson
You probably know who he is already. At least you’re probably familiar with his music — and may not realize it. He’s the guy that wrote that song. You remember the Christmas song with the bells ringing? It was the one with the lyrics, “We snuggle close together like two birds of a feather would be.” and “It’ll nearly be like a picture print from Currier and Ives.” One of my favorites!
He also wrote that other song. The one with the clock, and then there’s the one with the typewriter. Don’t forget the one with the cat meowing either. He also had a song that reached Number One on the Billboard charts and earned a Gold Record the year I was born — 1952. It was “Blue Tango”.
But his first composition was written in 1938. It was a piece written for Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, “Jazz Pizzicato”. Aaaah, jazz. Fiedler must have been a jazz aficionado as well, because he soon requested another jazz composition and Anderson complied with “Jazz Legato.”
Light orchestra music may not get the appreciation it deserves and Leroy Anderson shouldn’t be considered only as “that guy who wrote the song about a syncopated clock.” Anderson earned two degrees from Harvard, served as the band director, and went on to become a prolific composer whose work has been covered and paid tribute to by artists across the music spectrum from Winton Marsalis to Lawrence Welk. Like Elvis, Anderson interrupted his endeavors in music to serve in the U.S. Army (he spoke nine languages fluently), working in the Pentagon and later serving in Korea.
Leroy (le - ROY) Anderson’s honors include a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and being the namesake of the Anderson Band Center at Harvard. His music lives on as a popular resource for television show themes and in frequent tributes.
Can you name a singer with a Christmas album that hasn’t covered “Sleigh Ride”? Originally intended as a description of a winter event, Mitchell Parish wrote lyrics for it and it became another number one for Anderson on the Billboard charts.
Next time you’re enjoying Christmas music “snuggled up together like two birds of a feather,” thank Leroy Anderson and remember, “These wonderful things are the things we remember all through our lives.”