Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published July 18th 2020
Singing about the cold keeps you warm?
After going through several really cold mornings, a local regular reader jokingly suggested I should write a column about winter songs. Yes, this column really is that simple. It was suggested by a regular reader and I liked the idea. Not the first time that has happened, if I'm being honest.
So… songs about winter. As I write this, it is July, which the heart of an Australian winter. But to those in the northern hemisphere, it is summer, with all that entails. So, I have decided to instigate the following rules for songs here:
1) I have to like the song. (Duh!) 2) One song per artist. 3) No songs about months associated with winter (like December or whatever); also, no songs about or mentioning Christmas as, for me, that is hot BBQ weather. 4) No songs solely about snow or snow-related themes; the only time I've seen snow was a holiday to New Zealand. Snow can be mentioned, but if the song is just about the snow thing, no. 5) I am allowing myself instrumentals, so I can include a couple of tracks I really like.
One thing about songs about winter – most seem to be slow. Not all, but the vast majority. Even those that did not make this list, they seem to veer towards the laid-back. Not sure why; maybe to show how everything seems to slow down when it's cold?
Short, sharp and shiny. Yes, I know – how unlike me. To our list!
'Wintertime Love' by The Doors (1968)
A song of lost love, depressing, and maybe winter is used as a metaphor for feeling cold after losing said love, this is from the first album by The Doors. As such, it is not as well-rounded lyrically as later songs, but the mood of it is still down-beat and it fits the theme nicely.
'Rock And Roll Winter (Loony's Tune)' by Roy Wood and Wizzard (1974)
This almost sounds like a strange version of Wizzard's Christmas song. Still, it is an enjoyable track for that, and without the overt Christmasness of the lyrics, I enjoy it a little bit more. And the video is not quite as cringe-worthy. Not quite…
'Leave Love Enough Alone (Winter In America)' by Doug Ashdown (1974)
A vastly under-appreciated Australian classic track from the mid-70s (ignore the date on the video). Sure, it is that AOR style of music that is so derided, but the lyrics of missing someone on the other side of the world are so good and this song is really depressing. Yes, there is a mention of December, but I am letting it go because it is fleeting and, really, it is the juxtaposition of northern and southern hemispheres that makes the track what it is. I really like this track.
'A Hazy Shade Of Winter' by The Bangles (1987) (cover of song by Simon & Garfunkel (1966))
This will not be the first song where I prefer a cover version to the original, though this one was the closest call. I like them both equally, but there is something about the harmonies of the ladies in The Bangles that just add extra layers to the song that I really enjoy. A song about not letting life become 'winter', or hopeless, it is one of so many Simon & Garfunkel released that are considered classics, and the fact The Bangles did such a great cover version shows how good the song truly is.
'Writes Of Winter' by Jimmy Page (1988)
An instrumental! From the Outrider album, which I bought on cassette back in the day, this was the stand-out track on an album that actually disappointed me on the whole. But this one track made the album's purchase worth it. For a long time, it featured as one of my favourite instrumental tracks, but as I've got older, it has been replaced by others. Still, it is quite good.
'A Winter's Tale' by Queen (1995)
From Queen's final album, this song about a winter landscape being so clean and quiet and beautiful, it is a song of being comfortable and living a dream. I think. But do they have seagulls in winter in the UK? We lose them here…
'A Winter's Tale' by The Moody Blues (2003) (cover of song by David Essex (1983))
The reason this cover is here is that, although I knew it was a cover, I had never heard the original until doing my research for this column. Another song about a lost love, using the winter/coldness metaphor for emotions being so desperately wrought. Essex's version is not bad, but I just do not know it well enough; The Moody Blues do a great job.
'Wizards In Winter' by Trans-Siberian Orchestra (2004)
While this comes from a Christmas-themed album, and the video shows a house covered in Christmas lights, it's an instrumental – one of the best I have heard – that combines classical music with symphonic rock and without lyrics or Christmas in the title, it is about winter, and that is all. I could not resist putting this here, though; I love this track.
'Winter Song' by Def Leppard (2006) (cover of song by Lindisfarne (1970))
Another track that I knew was a cover (only because it was on a covers album), but did not hear the original until doing my research for this. It is a song about how hard winter is on certain people in society, and that theme is pretty much universal. Great song. I enjoy the acoustic instrumentation and the passion injected into the lyrics. I prefer this over the original.
'Winter Winds' by Mumford And Sons (2009)
From what I can gather listening to and reading the lyrics, this song is about a one-night stand that had the potential to go further, but didn't. That winter metaphor for coldness of feeling rears its head yet again. Still, this is such a good song from the album that gave us my favourite song of 2009.
So, there you have it. 10 songs about winter, the season, and what it represents. It seems to be able to stand in for a number of different themes, showing, yet again, what creative and good song-writers can actually do with the theme or topic they have chosen. And, for a change, we have songs from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s in one list. Such a spread of time and such a spread of songs, showing this really is a theme that still has legs.