Nantucket Sleighride is the second album from the heavy metal/hard rock group Mountain. Released in 1971, one year after there debut album Climbing, and the massive hit Mississippi Queen, which to this day is still the only Mountain song that you hear on the radio. Nantucket Sleighride was produced by the late Felix Pappalardi, who sadly left our world back in 1983 after being shot in the head by his wife. Felix who played the bass guitar along with original band members Leslie West on guitar, Corky Laing drums and Steve Knight organ couldn’t re-create that huge hit again on their sophomore record but what they did do is put out was the 6 minute masterpiece Nantucket Sleighride that did get plenty of FM radio play back in the early 70’s. We have heard many live versions of the song through the years but our old stand by is the original album version.
The song written by Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail Collins Pappalardi (yes the same one that shot him some 12 years later) was inspired by the famous Nantucket whale ship Essex that was rammed and sunk by a whale back in 1820. After weeks adrift on the sea the remaining survivors had resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. This was according to first mate Owen Chase and cabin boy Thomas Nickerson’s written accounts of the ordeal. The story of the Essex was the incident that inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.
As for the song Nantucket Sleighride you can break it down into parts of a whaling trip. It starts off slow and soft as if you are just taking off on your trip, then it gradually begins to build steam for a minute and a half, while you are on the ocean searching for the whales. At the 1:42 mark you have found the first whale and the adrenaline starts to rush through your veins. The race is on and for now the whale seems to be winning and 30 seconds the harpoon has been shot! It’s a miss and for 10 seconds the crew winds down some and the music slows down to a slower pace as the music man starts to sing the whaling song out load.
Around the 3:10 mark you spot another whale off in the distance and the crew picks up the pace some as you try to get the harpooner closer to his target. As the boat gets closer it’s kind of funny because the crews adrenaline doesn’t shoot straight up like it did earlier but it seems to slow down as if they knows what is about to happen before it happens By the 4:05 mark you still haven’t gotten close enough to the beast so the song man decides to start singing again. BANG! A minute later the harpoon is shoot with no warning to you or the crew. The true Nantucket Sleighride has begun. Lucky for you it’s a small whale so the intensity and length of the ride is not to rough and load but a nice ride tell the end of the song. O.K. the song is really about not killing the whale but as we said you can think about the it as a whaling trip.
Video courtesy of Bath Side Boy