The Richmond Register

February 16, 2013

Whither went our ‘Winter Songs?’

By Frank Kourt
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — There’s something that occurs to me this time of year that has been bugging me ever since I was a little kid.

How come, once Christmas is over, are we expected to pack away all our “songs of the season” never to see the light of day again until after next Thanksgiving?

There’s a lot of beautiful, happy and sentimental songs that we could play all winter long, but over the years, they have somehow been branded “Christmas songs,” although they never mention Christmas, New Year’s or, for that matter Thanksgiving.

These songs get no airplay on the radio after the first of the year, and if people hear you humming them after January first, they either look at you like you’ve flipped out, or remind you that the season is over.

If you think about it, you know the songs I’m talking about.

Take, for instance, “Sleigh Ride.” It’s a perfectly nice and happy song about riding through the winter snow, If you look at the lyrics, you’ll find no mention of Christmas or any holiday. The closest it comes is the mention of “a birthday party at the home of Farmer Gray!”

Then, there’s “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” Again, not a Christmas song … just a happy reflection of the season of winter.

I could go on, and will!

How about the Tony Bennett classic “Snowfall”? Even “Jingle Bells,” which has somehow become the unofficial theme of Christmas, makes no mention of any holiday? Like “Sleigh Ride,” it’s a celebration of taking a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh through the snow.

When Dean Martin croons “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” he’s making a pitch to have his girlfriend spend the night with him … Christmas or New Year’s are probably the farthest things from his mind!

Likewise, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!” is about two lovers reluctantly parting on a winter’s night. Then, there’s Andy Williams crooning “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” (I’m detecting a theme here.)

Even the venerable “Frosty The Snowman” isn’t really a Christmas song. It’s a jolly winter fantasy for kids about a snowman that’s come to life!

Somehow “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music” got co-opted as a “Christmas song,” even though it’s not, and it’s not generally heard except for the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Likewise “Marshmallow World” and “The Skater’s Waltz” are unfairly banned (at least unofficially) from the airwaves after the holiday season, as is that old kids’ chestnut “Here Comes Suzy Snowflake,” which was always played in my hometown on the various TV stations at first snowfall. (Having grown up in Buffalo, N.Y., that could have been any time after Labor Day!)

These are just the songs that come to me off the top of my head; you can probably think of more.

What do we do about this?

Well, I, for one, would recommend making a personal play list of favorite winter songs and proudly playing them during the entire winter … even after Christmas.

Sure, it may be unconventional, but why not? There’s no reason for sweet, poignant and, yes, jolly songs about the winter to be banished with the Christmas decorations.

We need to start a quiet revolution, and restore winter songs to their rightful place on our stereos all season long!

And for you young whippersnappers who are wondering what a “stereo” is … look it up!