As winter approaches the airwaves fill up with the same Christmas-related tunes we hear year after year. So we thought we would offer some relief to that with our favourite wintery tracks.
Yes, there are a couple of Christmas tracks in there, but we believe these move a little away from the usual warmed-up fayre you normally hear at this time of year, and offer something a little different.
Whether they are directly related to winter, or just have the spirit of the colder, darker months, this list of ten tracks – are designed to act like an audible ‘flu jab to keep you going until Spring arrives.
Our top ten
Willard Grant Conspiracy – Christmas in Nevada
With its beautiful acoustic guitars and deep, resonant vocals, this track sounds warm and wonderful, while at the same time painting a somewhat bleaker picture of the outside world during the festive season. A very different take on the traditional Christmas picture.
Harry Nilsson – Everybody’s Talking
A song inseparable from the movie it provided the opening title sequence for. Makes us think of freezing New York streets and trying to keep warm. Plus, it has the fantastic line – “I’m going where the weather suits my clothes.” It also sounds just beautiful.
Pixies – Winterlong
This wonderful cover of a Neil Young track is evocative of both winter and loneliness – so what could be more topical in a chilly morning. A track recorder originally for a compilation of cover versions of Young tracks, the Pixies loved it so much they ended up opening their reunion shows with it.
Bob Dylan – Isis
Classic Dylan, and a track with two different but equally powerful versions – the original on Desire and the amazing live version on the Rolling Thunder Revue live album, Bootleg Series Volume 5. Either way, the tale is a powerful one of love and a foolhardy treasure hunt to a ice-bound pyramid. Simply extraordinary, or, as Dylan says here, ‘not ordinary’.
Joanna Newsom – Sapokanikan
The lead out track from Joanna Newsom’s excellent new album is the perfect antidote to the drawing in of winter. Crisp and bright rather than damp and sludgy, this wonderful track from our favourite singer/songwriter/harpist sets the tone for the darker months ahead.
Joni Mitchell – River
Okay, so this appears on hi-fi test classic Blue, but that’s no reason not to include it here. One of Joni’s best moments: sad, haunting, and beautifully sung and played on a nicely recorded album. Just beautiful.
Tracey Thorn – Sister Winter
This seasonal cover version of the excellent Sufjan Stevens track is delivered in Thorn’s usual, wonderfully laid back style. Simple acoustic guitar starts us off before the track grows and the track tells a story of love via the medium of the seasons – don’t all the best winter songs do that?
Muddy Waters – Cold Weather Blues
Heartbreak always seems worse in the winter – at least if you listen to music like this, anyway. The great Muddy Waters leaves it all out there on this remarkable track. It also gives your speakers a great bass work out too – so watch out for some smalle on one-box speakers that can’t reach as deep!
Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal
Beautifully layered vocals and lush acoustic instrumentation make this the ideal track to warm yourself by the fire on a cold winter’s evening. Yes, that is a cliché, but admit it, it sounds like a great idea doesn’t it?
California Dreaming – The Mamas and The Papas
Let’s finish of with some winter sun. This fantastic track – 50 years old in 2016! – was released the same year John Bowers started making speakers full time, and stands up not only as a signature track of the era, but also a great piece of toe-tapping music perfect for bringing some light to a dull day.