Top 10 Songs About Winter

Well Old Man Winter has made a nasty return in recent days, just when we thought we’d seen the last of the old grump. Perhaps if we acknowledge this most unloved of seasons, you know, cajole him with a peace offering, maybe he will go away faster. So in honor of the Old Cold Man here is a list of top winter songs, not including all that Christmas stuff (a different test of endurance in and of itself).


1. Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles (1969)

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This is a song about the end of winter, which for most people is the best part of winter (other than maybe the very first snowfall). I mean who hasn’t thought to themselves, one fine day every year, man, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter? There’s always a small sense of accomplishment for simply surviving yet another one.


2. California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas (1966)

This one always seemed to be about an earlier point in the winter cycle, mentioning the brown leaves but no talk of snow or ice. Still, I don’t think anybody ever captured the yearning for sunshine and warmth and all that crazy shit that happens in California any better than this.


3. The Coldest Night Of The Year – Bruce Cockburn (1981)

You can’t have a list of winter songs without at least one Canadian entry. After all, winter was invented in 1723 by a mystic friar in Northern Quebec (source: internet). Anyway when it’s brutally cold things even sound different outside – sound waves get sort of chipped – and you can practically hear that effect in this cozy little number.


4. Winter – TV On The Radio (2014)

We are looking for weather songs, not winter-as-metaphor songs. On this groovy tune winter may be a metaphor for not getting laid, but it’s ambiguous enough to pass as climatology: Oh, it’s the winter of the wanted / Yeah, it’s the hardest part of nature / Lord, have mercy on this creature / Give me some heat, I know you’ve got it / And who knows what the summer’s gonna bring us? / Comes on slow, gotta keep the fire in us”.


5. Hazy Shade Of Winter – Simon & Garfunkel (1966)

Winter is also partly metaphorical in this bit of youthful pop psychoanalysis, but the wintry details are firmly on point. Incidentally — “Funny how my memory skips / Looking over manuscripts / Of unpublished rhyme / Drinking my vodka and lime” — self-reflection sure has developed a harder edge over the past 50 years. Talk about first world problems.


6. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow – Frank Zappa (1974)

Well you might complain about the ghastly cultural appropriation on this track, or you might complain that it is just plain gross, but it’s still solid advice for anyone living in a winter climate.


7. Fifteen Feet Of Pure White Snow – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (2001)

There are plenty of snow references in Rock that have nothing to do the icy wet stuff that falls from the sky. I’m not sure about this one, fifteen feet is like nuclear fallout-level snowfall, but he does mention “icicles hanging from my knees” so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.


8. Winter Time – Steve Miller Band (1977)

One of the first songs that came to mind for this list, from a peak period in Miller’s career. This sound was as representative of the Seventies as “California Dreamin’” was of the Sixties. Note to songwriters: when describing winter please avoid the expression “leaves are brown”, it has been used far too many times already.


9. While I Shovel The Snow – The Walkmen (2010)

One of the great things about a big snowfall is that everything in a city slows down to a crawl, which can be an intoxicating feeling. The Walkmen capture that mood beautifully with the skating waltz time signature and the conclusion under the snow that “there’s no life like the slow life”.


10. Winter – The Rolling Stones

This is Mick doing his Van Morrison impression, vamping on a gentle progression sweet and soulful, with some great guitar licks from Mick Taylor. A bonafide winter song even if a different title had made it less obvious.

There are hundreds of songs about winter, do you have any particular favorites of your own?

Victorgrigas at English Wikipedia [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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One comment to “Top 10 Songs About Winter”
  1. There are some good tunes on there. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a fave. Loving that TV On The Radio song. Never heard it before… Good to remember Zappa’s advice, too.

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