Like Mondays aren’t bad enough in and of themselves, it’s adding insult to injury when you wake up to find that not only is your weekend over, but it’s frickin’ freezing outside. Living right next door to Virginia Beach as I do, I’m used to an inch of snow being enough to cause mass hysteria amongst the population; my wife, however, is from Iowa, where it takes at least a foot of snow before they’ll even put a one-hour delay on the public schools. The two of us teamed up on this particular mix so that, even if you do have to venture into inclement winter weather, at least you’ll have a good soundtrack to keep you company. P.S. Don’t forget: if you hit a patch of ice, remember that you’re supposed to turn into the skid!
"Cold," Tears for Fears (Elemental)
This album got a really bad rap when it first emerged, partially because it sounded nothing like its predecessor, but mostly because everyone wanted to bash Roland Orzabal for continuing to use the TFF name without Curt Smith in tow. Personally, though, I think it’s pretty damned good. Meaningless confession: despite the fact that they’re absolutely awful, I have always loved the lines, "Bring to me my big old sweater / Nothing more will make me better."
"Cold as Ice," Foreigner (Foreigner)
Damn, them keys sound icy! Almost certainly the definitive use of piano in a classic rock song that isn’t by Elton John.
"Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow," Nick Cave
and the Bad Seeds (No More Shall We Part)
What is it about winter-related songs that inspire the use of piano as their primary instrument? Whatever the case, while Cave’s piano isn’t constantly at the forefront on this song, when it is, it sounds like he’s trying to channel "Tubular Bells." The effect is, like the best of his songs, downright creepy.
"Driven like the Snow," The Sisters of Mercy
And as long as we’re getting creepy, we might as well throw in an inclusion by one of the creepiest voices in music: Andrew Eldritch, frontman for the Sisters of Mercy.
"Ice Cold Ice," Husker Du (Warehouse:
Songs and Stories)
I can still remember the episode of "120 Minutes" where then-host Carolyn Heldman paid tribute to the disbanding of Husker Du by saying, "In Norwegian, their name means, ‘Do you remember?’ At ‘120 Minutes,’ we always will." How melodramatic. And, yet here it is, almost 20 years later, and I’m including one of their songs on this mix. Fair enough, then.
"Snow Girl," Haircut 100 (Pelican West)
Nick Heyward’s old band has never gotten its proper due. Everyone’s always like, "Oh, I thought they just had the one song (‘Love Plus One’) and that’s it." No way, man, that whole album is great. Mind you, no decade has resulted in more sax-slathered music than the ‘80s, and Pelican West is full of that particular ‘phone. Still, once you’ve heard this song, you’ll want to sing along with Nick when he croons, "Snowy-owie-oh girl!"
"Freeze," Robyn Hitchcock ‘n’ the Egyptians
All I have to offer on this song are the following lines: "I know who wrote the book of love / It was an idiot / It was a fool / A slobbering fool with a speech defect and a shakin' hand / And he wrote my name / Next to yours / But it should have been David Byrne or somebody." Seriously, how are awesome are those lyrics?
"Running on Ice," Billy Joel (The Bridge)
By virtue of not being An Innocent Man, Pt. 2, The Bridge never really had much of a chance to be as big as its predecessor, but I used to have it on vinyl, and my recollection is that, at the very least, Side One is a pretty damned solid piece of work. This is the album opener, and I never understood why it wasn’t a single; it’s a great little pop song. By the way, what is it about Billy Joel that he always seems to end up on these mixes?
"Skating Away on the Thin Ice of a New Day,"
Jethro Tull (War Child)
Yes, certainly, it’s one of the most pretentious titles ever, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good song. My first exposure to Tull was from a best-of collection called Original Masters, and this song was one of the primary reasons that I investigated their back catalog further.
"Baby It’s Cold Outside," Tom Jones with Cerys
Matthews from Catatonia (Reload)
Not that it’s really so surprising to hear, given his longstanding reputation as a man who inspires the throwing of panties during his live performances, but, really, our man Tom sounds like the dirtiest old man in Wales on this song.
"Snowflakes," Just Jack (The Outer Marker)
Imagine the middle ground between Robbie Williams and the Streets, and you’ll find yourself staring down Just Jack. There’s a remix of this that liberally borrows from the Cure’s "Lullaby," but the regular album version’s just fine, thanks.
"Fox in the Snow," Belle & Sebastian
(If You’re Feeling Sinister)
Twee are the world, twee are the children, and absolutely twee are the early Belle & Sebastian albums. This song nicks part of the melody to "Yesterday Once More," but what’s more distracting is that I can never remember the name of that particular Carpenters song right off the bat. I have to start the "every sha-la-la-la / every whoa-whoa" bit and sing ‘til I get to where they sing the title.
"Cold World," The Electric Soft Parade (The
Human Body EP)
Again with the piano! These guys made a great debut in 2002 with Holes in the Wall – which never scored an American release – and they proceeded to follow it up with the ironically-titled The American Adventure, which, to my knowledge, also saw no Stateside release. This EP, however, did see our shores, and the band’s third album is due in 2007.
"Angel in the Snow," a-ha (Memorial Beach)
Give me any chance to praise a-ha’s post-"Take On Me" material, and I’ll take it. This was such a good album, the first where they explored territory beyond stuff with instant chart potential, but it flopped so badly in the States that they haven’t released another album here since.
"After the Snow," Modern English (After
Only the good lord above and the folks at SoundScan know how many copies of this album have been sold…and, yet, I’d bet that over half the people who own it couldn’t tell you a single other song besides "I Melt with You." It’s really rather a good record, though, and this – its title cut – seems an appropriate way to bring this mix to its conclusion.