Historicity of music | “Cold” Songs to Listen to in Winter | Music
Do you have the post-holiday doldrums at the end of January?
We’re a third into winter – my least favorite of the four seasons, and it’s no coincidence that the cold weather also hints at my similar “cold” emotional state.
I’m a bit darker this time of year than my favorite season which if you know me is spring.
This is reminiscent of the many musical titles that use the word “cold”.
But before we get there, let’s not forget a few qualifying bands, like Edgar Winter, known for hits like “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride,” British indie rock band Arctic Monkeys, rock band Grammy-nominated Scottish Snow Patrol and, of course, Coldplay.
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Originally known as Pectoralz and then Starfish, British alternative rock band Coldplay take their name from the title of a collection of poetry titled “Child’s Reflections, Cold Play”. The group has sold over 100 million albums, won seven Grammy Awards and is known for hit songs like “Clocks”, “Viva la Vida” and “Something Just Like This”, among others.
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One of the first “cold” songs that comes to mind is “Cold as Ice”, which appeared on the band’s self-titled debut album Foreigner. The 1977 hit went to No. 6 on Billboard in the United States and was the B-side single to “Feels Like the First Time”.
Three years later, the Rolling Stones released their album “Emotional Rescue”, which featured the controversial song “She’s So Cold”. The tune reached No. 26 on the US Billboard charts and created an uproar over a line in the song where Mick Jagger sings that the girl is so “fuckin’ cold”. The 45 rpm single sent to radio stations contained the original song on one side and a cleaned up version on the other.
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“Cold Turkey” is a song by John Lennon recorded in 1969 when the Beatles were finishing their penultimate studio album “Abbey Road”. Attributed to the Plastic Ono Band, the track reached number 30 on the US Billboard charts. Various sources claim the song was about retiring from heroin addiction, but others cite that Lennon wrote the song after suffering food poisoning from eating cold turkey.
Another classic is James Brown’s “Cold Sweat,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts. The original version of the 1967 album ran for 7:30 and was reportedly recorded in one take with the band seated in a semi-circle around a single microphone.
“Cold, Cold Heart” was one of 11 songs written by Hank Williams, Sr. that reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts. Recorded in 1950, in Nashville, Tennessee, with an unknown band, the hit was one of 128 tracks written by the country legend.
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There’s a catchy and fun hip-hop song from 1989 called “Funky Cold Medina”, by Tone Loc. The platinum-selling single went to No. 3 on Billboard and uses numerous song snippets, including Foreigner’s “Hot Blooded”, The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”, Free’s “All Right Now” and ” You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
The song is funny because “Funky Cold Medina” refers to a drink that is a kind of aphrodisiac. After giving the concoction to “Sheena” at a bar, the singer later discovers at home that the person is actually a man. Later, the potion works too well on a woman who begins to make wedding plans.
Speaking of drinks, there’s “Cold Gin,” by Kiss, and “Cold Shot,” by Stevie Ray Vaughn, though the latter song refers to romantic rejection rather than alcohol.
Somewhat related to this discussion is the 1984 Stevie Ray studio album titled after one of the songs it contains, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather”.
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Some other “cold” songs include “Cold Wind” by Arcade Fire, “Cold Fire” by Rush, “Cold Love” by Donna Summer, “Cold Sweat” by Thin Lizzy, “Cold Brains” by Beck (–an excellent song), “Cold Desert” by Kings of Leon, “Cold Ethyl” by Alice Cooper and a fun jam called “Cold Beverage” by G. Love & Special Sauce.
There are two completely different songs titled “Cold Blooded” – one by Khalid and the other by the late Rick James. And there are three completely different tracks called “Cold Shoulder”, by Adele, Culture Club and Garth Brooks.
But it’s nothing. There are at least 16 separate songs sharing the single title “Cold”, by artists including James Blunt, Maroon 5, Kanye West, Julian Lennon, Korn, Stormzy, Post Malone, Crossfade, Annie Lennox, Five Finger Death Punch, Tears For Fears, Maxwell, Static X, O’G3NE, Rae Morris and Black Country Communion.
The last one I would like to mention is “Cold Rain and Snow”. Adapted from a 1917 compilation of southern Appalachian folksongs, the tune, written by a “Mrs. Tom Rice”, appeared on the Grateful Dead’s self-titled debut studio album in 1967 and was played throughout the 28 years of concerts of the group.
Since then, “Cold Rain and Snow” has been recorded by artists such as Bill Monroe, the Del McCoury Band, Peter Rowan and many more.
I hope you’re not too cautious after all this talk about “cold” songs. Maybe next week we’ll explore tracks like Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot”!
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Gary Gibula is a SIU alumnus, musician, writer, editor and author of the Music Historicity Columns. He can be reached at [email protected]