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Five Songs For a Freezing Day

By Mary Kunz Goldman

1. Sonny Boy Williamson, "Nine Below Zero." "The woman waits till it's nine below zero, and puts me down for another man." A timeless, ageless theme, and a wonderful video of the great Sonny Boy singing and playing his harp.

2. "Gute Nacht" ("Good night") the first song from the song cycle "Die Winterreise" ("The Winter Journey") by Franz Schubert. It is in German but this song translates roughly to "Nine below zero, she put me out for another man." Enjoy this bleak portrait of winter, and listen to the whole thing because the ending is magical. Your singer is baritone Thomas Quasthoff.

3. "Moonlight in Vermont." Let's see the cold in a more affectionate light. This is a romantic portrait of winter but still gets across the chilliness with its words about icy fingertips and snowlight. No one sings it as beautifully as Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong. 

 4.  Frank Bridge's song "Blow, Blow Thy Winter Wind" quotes from Shakespeare in laughing at the winter wind and reminding us that in the grand scheme of things a cold wind is not that bad. "Hey, ho, sing hey ho, unto the green holly..." Here is Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, a singer I love, with Roger Vignoles on piano.

5. Not a song per se, but we cannot have a list of music for a single-digit-degree day without the vivid "Winter" from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." There is that exquisite melody in the middle movement -- that part is supposed to be about warming up by the fire -- but the other movements really sum up what a day like today is like. I chose this video for its great images, but even without them, Vivaldi makes you feel the shivering and the chattering teeth.


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