Friday, January 4, 2008

Songs to Celebrate Winter

So, I skipped a few Tuneful Tuesdays, I was too busy having fun with Sisterknits and others. Next week I'll try to have a few ideas for Epiphany season music, but today in keeping with the previous post here are a few songs for celebrating winter (or daydreaming about it, if you live in a place with no snow).

1. A-Roving on a Winter's Night -- Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen, Priscilla Herdman -- Voices of Winter.
This is the most mournful of the songs, but it's so pretty. And winter does give us time to reflect and remember. It's by Doc Watson, but owes a lot to Robert Burns's My Luve Is Like a Red, Red Rose.

2. Bleak Midwinter Polka -- Trailer Trash -- Hell, It's X-Mas.
Trailer Trash is a Minneapolis bar band that I've never heard in person. In this song, written by their fiddle player "Razz" Russell, they have a good suggestion for what to do if and when winter gets you down (as it sometimes does in Minneapolis, that's why they say the polka "makes living in this hell worthwhile.")

3. Walkin' in My Winter Underwear -- Trailer Trash -- Hell, It's X-Mas.
Trailer Trash's almost unintelligible version of the song made famous by Yogi Yorgesson, Stan and Doug, and Casey the Railroad Engineer (a favorite of Twin Cities children's TV). I caught something about Lake Street and got the idea that the singer is quite positive about his winter underwear, unlike the earlier singers, who had the old, scratchy version. For one of the original versions by Casey,

4. Snow Day -- Trout Fishing in America -- Merry Fishes to All.
The duo Trout Fishing in America has a childlike point of view with some very grown-up abilities at songwriting. This song is about the joy of waking up to a snow day, with all normal activities put on hold and an unexpected chance to play.

5. Frosty the Snowman -- The Roches -- We Three Kings.
This classic is given a fresh interpretation by the three New Jersey sisters and some of their young relatives. It's lots of fun. Frosty was written by Walter "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson, who also wrote Peter Cottontail; and Jack Rollins wrote Smokey the Bear. It was, of course, first recorded by Gene Autry (when I was little, I wanted to marry him. I'd be a lot richer if I had!)

6. Bob and Bob -- Trout Fishing in America -- Merry Fishes to All.
The conceit in this song is that there are identical twin snowflakes named Bob and Bob, when of course we all know that no two snowflakes are alike. There's also some interesting information about snow here and there.

7. Hot Buttered Rum -- Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen, Priscilla Herdman -- Voices of Winter.
A winter love song, with a somewhat jaundiced view of winter redeemed by the presence of a loved one. It was written by the late Tommy Thompson, founding member of the Red Clay Ramblers. You can go here to see some great illustrations of the song done by kids.

8. Winter Weather/I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm -- Tony Bennett -- Snowfall.
There are several other great winter songs on this album, too. These two, sung in a medley, both speak to the joys of snuggling in the cold weather. Winter Weather was written by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Ted Shapiro, who was active in the 1920s and wrote a lot of songs for Sophie Tucker, the Red Hot Mama. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm was introduced in the film On the Avenue in 1937 and was written by Irving Berlin. Tony Bennett is a national treasure.

9. The Frozen Logger/Proper Cup of Coffee -- Anne Hills, Cindy Mangsen, Priscilla Herdman -- Voices of Winter.
The Frozen Logger was written in the 1920s by Jim Stevens, who also wrote (or wrote down) a lot of the Paul Bunyan stories. The Weavers found it and had a hit with it in 1951, and it's been recorded by Odetta and several others. Proper Cup of Coffee was originally (as far as I can tell) recorded by the Andrews Sisters (also from Minneapolis!) in the late 1950s, and has also been recorded by Trout Fishing in America. Although written by Emanuele Pellegrini and Aaron Gershunoff, it has become somewhat of a folk song with different singers coming up with new verses, as Hills, Mangsen and Herdman have done here. The tune is slightly different now too, or at least jazzed up quite a bit.

You may have noticed that three out of the nine tracks above are from the same album -- I highly recommend Voices of Winter as well as all the other discs these three women have recorded both together and individually.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

That video was a hoot - pure silliness and "the end" was cute too!

I see you have got a good reads widget on your blog. I need to check it out. :)