Category Archives: Winther Theme

Words of winter and snow

Last but not least, a couple of female singer song withers, words about winter and snow.

Tori Amos, performing a very emotional live version of her hit from 1992.

Wither is song about daughter father relations. In this case winter seems to represent pleasant memories, a number of different winter metaphors are used throughout the song. Winter was released as a single from her debut solo album Little Earthquakes.

Finaly Kate Bush, literally making up 50 words for snow, on the title track of her latest album, 8.30 minutes ,with probably the most absurd lyrics Kate ever put to record : 43 deep’nhidden, 44 bad for trains, 45 shovelcrusted, 46 anechoic, 47 blown from polar fur.
Narrated by the famous British actor and TV host, Stephen Fry.

The End

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The Cold Winds of Folk

Now to some winter inspired folk rock music, first Jethro Tull, with their wonderful blend of folk and rock. On “Minstrel in the Gallery” (1975) Anderson (frontman and songwriter) is recreating the Norse and Anglo-Saxon poetry traditions, in this wonderful piece about the myth of Valhalla, of course with a hint, that today “Valkyrie maidens ride empty-handed” due to a lack of sword fighting Heroes. Its not actualy a song about winter, but it is filled with hints to cold, Frost and Ice. Reflecting the perception of the Myth of the Norse, as a cold ice world.

Jethro Tull was and is the one band, defining folk rock as a part of the progressive rock scene. The band, have had a huge following and a loyal fan base, ever since the early 70’s. Jethro Tull have sold more than 60 million albums worldwide.

More direct and grounded, was The Decemberists (2011) “January Hymn”, from “The King Is Dead”, a simple yet very beautiful song, set in cold winter scenery. The Decemberists are an indie, folk rock band from Oregon, known to use the accordion, Hammond organ, upright bass, cello, bouzouki and other instruments not common in rock. The band just like Jethro Tull lyrically favors a storytelling approach, often with historical perspective or inspiration. Even though in this case it seems we got a song about lost love, or at least lost connections.

The tundra’s of Winter Rock

Previous post in this series.
Now to a Rock classics about winter, taken from The Rolling Stones, 1971 album Goats Head Soup.

Winter was officially credited to singer Jagger/Richards, but it is likely the work of Jagger and lead guitarist at the time, Mick Taylor. It was the first song recorded for the album and does not feature Richards at all. There is a deep melancholy, in this ballad, underlined by the strings, Mick Taylors guitar, and Jaggers vocal. They perfectly catch the desperation and sadness, winter can represent.

Now, after all this way to serious music, luckily there is also a funny side of winter :

In Rock music the funny approach to winter , was most excellently put on Record by Frank Zappa, on his famous 1974 album, Apostrophe (‘), in “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow Suite” a story about “Nanook the Eskimo” and “The Fur Trapper”, running over the first four tracks of the album.
With the Eclecticism of Zappa’s music, I am not going to try describing that, I just hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Frank Zappa : “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow Suite” first two tracks.

(The video is not a Zappa original, but it is a perfect fit)

Winter Journey (part 2)

After my view on Winter as a theme in classical music.
I will move on, and listen to some “Winter Blues“. First this fine example of Chicago urban blues, the style of blues that would later be very influential on the British blues movement (Zeppelin,Clapton,Stones ect.)

Kokomo Arnold : Cold Winter Blues. (1937)

Arnold

Kokomo Arnold (1901-1968), was born in Georgia, started his music career in Buffalo. But due to his main occupation of transporting alcohol under the Prohibition, he mainly recorded in Chicago. Arnold played bottleneck slide guitar. Most of his recorded material is solo work with just vocals and the guitar.

Another early blues legend, playing the winter blues, was Blind Willie McTell (1898-159). William Samuel McTier was a East Coast blues guitarist, playing the Piedmont fingerstyle on twelve-string guitar, with a unique soft vocal.

‘Cold Winter Day’ recorded 1935.

McTell have influenced and been covered by The Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan, Taj Mahal, Jack White and more. Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell”, paid tribute to McTell.

Last but not least, this wonderful winter blues by Muddy Water (1913 – 1983) The father of modern Chicago blues, hugely influential on modern blues in general, and especially Blues Rock.

Muddy Waters – Cold Weather Blues

Winter Journey (part 1)

Snow have been falling, cold wind are blowing, it is winter time. So let us listen to some of the music made about this dark and cold time of year.

As oppose to Christmas with all its light, winter may often represent darkness depression and death, as it clearly does, in Schubert’s song circle Winterreise (Winter Journey). The theme of the songs is a journey, into the winter landscape, by a man having lost his lover to another man.
Schubert was very sick, from syphilis, when he wrote the music for the Poems by Wilhelm Müller.His physical and mental health clearly reflected, in the very dark moods of the songs.When finishing the last part of the song circle, he was almost dying.

Schubert : Winterreise.”Gute Nacht”

While not a very big name in his lifetime, Schubert (1797 – 1828) was highly regarded by the next generation of composers (Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms). Schubert is now regarded as one of the greatest composers of the early Romantic era. Schubert died shortly after completing Winterreise, only 32 years old.

A lot more uplifting was Frantz Liszt (1811 – 1886) Chasse-neige (snowstorm), In this case the composer transform the element of winter, the nature of the snowstorm, into his music. No longer does winter represent a human state of mind, the music is about winter itself.

Franz Liszt Chasse-neige

Franz Ritter von Liszt was an Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, and teacher.
Liszt was known by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist and was considered to be, one of the greatest pianist of all time. As a composer, Liszt was one of the most prominent representatives of the “Neudeutsche Schule”. He influenced his contemporaries and anticipated some of the 20th-century ideas and trends.

To be continued