The dream is over. Winter is here. Not the moderately enjoyable, holiday laden, over imbibing happy days of winter. The fuck me, it’s frigid why the fuck am I driving to work in the dark winter. That special time of year when your back clenches up like the spring of a Chinatown wristwatch, ticking closer to dysfunction with each passing second.
If you’re me, this is not the time to dust off The Beach Boys or Jimmy Buffet, as if the mere strum of the ukulele will teleport your spirit to the beach. No thanks. I would rather listen to a band or artist that articulates the bitter, harsh – often lonely winter months. It should be stark. Fragile. Haunting at times. It should sound like Mountain Man’s Made the Harbor.
Everyone always talks about spring fever, but winter is where the real yearning for love originates. Life is easy in warmth. Navigating a week without sunlight proves tough. It just so happens that spring lies at the end of winter and suddenly the thin, invitation of an April dress is enough to knock a man over. Words like wind chill and frost bite make an intimate evening beneath the covers feel like a necessity more than a want. The outdoors are a lover all their own, it’s the emptiness of a drafty living room or a frosty mattress feels like an unwarranted punishment.
“Boots of Spanish Leather” could never have been written without the jarring winds of a New York City winter. The heartbreak proves more palatable picturing Dylan shuffling through snowy streets while his love sails toward sunny Spain. “My spirit is in shambles and my feet are cold. Send some boots you soulless, selfish hell cat.”
In the same way, Van Morrison seems unlikely to ever have penned the incomparable “And it Stoned Me” without the warmth of summer, when a brief rain proves more opportunity than hassle – a welcome relief and healing. The bouncy piano line and floating acoustic guitar sound destined for nights where mosquitoes swarm the solitary light outside a screen door. Love is less essential on days like this, when an icy beverage can be as satisfying as a lengthy embrace.
Weather constrains and shapes an artist as much as any influence imaginable. The claustrophobic aspect of winter forces us to create for ourselves. The beauty of the outdoors has vanished and the artist is left with a blank, snowy canvas. I’m excited to see what songs winter inspires this year. What will the winds blow our way this time?
Written by Rob Peoni