Thursday, January 15, 2009

5 cool songs for winter

With temperatures dropping below zero and wind wiping snow around (at least throughout the Northeast of the United States) it seems appropriate to provide a list of five songs for winter.

A Google search of the words winter and song will yield a list of several songs, usually ballads, about the chilly season from such bastions of rock as The Rolling Stones, Steve Miller Band and Wings. I wanted songs with a bit more kick, but if you are so inclined feel free to look into these songs.

“Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” – Frank Zappa (1974)
Perhaps quirky guitar maestro extraordinaire Frank Zappa’s most well-known song. The title is self-explanatory and the song is exactly what you expect with Zappa warning to “Watch out where those huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow.” Things go into unexpected territory if you continue the funky chronicles of the yellow snow in “Nanook Rubs It.”

“Snowball” – Devo (1980)
The off-beat new wave band is best known for the song “Whip It” for those silly flower pot-esque hats, but it would be wrong to dismiss them as a novelty act. The band's lyrics, though buried under danceable beats, were often surprisingly poignant: “My baby took our love/And then she rolled it up/Rolled it up a hill/Like a ball of snow/Like a snowball grows/Until it gets too big/Until she lost control/And it rolled back down.”

Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles (1987)
The 80s girl group The Bangles did a cranked up version of Simon & Garfunkel’s classic from 1967 that kept the harmonies, but striped away the simple acoustic guitar work and replaced it with a forceful electric guitar lead and driving drums. The more rocked out approach paired with Simon & Garfunkel’s contemplatives lyrics proved an ideal match.

“Snowball” – Jimmy Fallon (2001)
This no relation to the Devo song above. Comedian Jimmy Fallon’s first album “The Bathroom Wall” featured fair stand-up and good impressions, but the most pleasant surprise was five impressively well produced songs that impeccably recreated the genres they were mocking. Among those songs was this punk tribute to snowball fights featuring lyrics like “Sneak attack in a field/use your toboggan as a shield.”

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone (2003)
This standard has been branded as a Christmas song, but really has nothing to do with the holiday. The song is about a man trying to convince a woman to stay in from a snow storm with pleas like “gee your lips look delicious.” Originally recorded in 1949, the song has been covered numerous times. This particular version was recorded by actress Zooey Deschanel and the mysterious jazz/blues singer Leon Redbone for “The Elf” soundtrack.


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