When we started making this playlist, it was cold. Now, it’s cold and also rainy, which is a fun combination. While you wait out the weather and the days until break in your questionably-heated rooms, take this care package of cold-weather themed songs to heart.
Kendrick Shen, contributing writer (kshen6 ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide” – It’s that time of year again, when the days grow colder and my heart grows heavier. The change is not a gradual process, but it surprises me by coming in spurts as I start to reflect on the happenings of the past year. “Landslide” is an undeniable icon of early winter, and the undulating guitar backing with Stevie Nicks’ rich vocals makes it a staple when you’ve got the feels. Picturing a landslide down those snow-covered hills from the safety of my dorm room has got me holed up in warmth and gratitude, blessed to be here even as I quietly suffer through the California “cold.”
Tyler Dunston, contributing writer (tdunston ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Joni Mitchell, “River” – I’ve listened to this song more than any other this quarter, and now the cold weather makes it feel more appropriate than ever. Everything in this song creates an atmosphere of cold – from the intro piano evoking Christmas carols to Mitchell’s moving lyrics (“I wish I had a river I could skate away on”) to her voice which pierces and chills like ice. When she hits the high note on the word “fly,” she embodies the sense of longed-for escape and transcendence in the image of the river. You can’t hear this song without feeling it deeply. I can’t say it’s meant for idle listening. But when you have the time and energy to meet it on its own terms, its restorative power is indisputable.
Jacob Nierenberg, contributing writer (jhn2017 ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Leonard Cohen, “Anthem” – It’s been just over a year since what was the single darkest week of my life. On a fateful Tuesday last November, a close friend confided in me about a traumatic experience; hours later, I watched as CNN broke the news that America had succumbed to its most vindictive, self-destructive impulses and chosen a monster to be its president. When it was announced just days later that Leonard Cohen had died, it felt like a cruel joke, like 2016 was taking one more thing we loved in a year that had already taken so much from us. I didn’t want to listen to music in the days after the election, but Cohen’s songs were a balm, especially “Anthem,” which I frequently saw quoted on social media. Every time I saw the words “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in,” it was one more crack in a monolith of despair, reassuring us that one day our personal and political tragedies could be overcome. When we are cold and broken, “Anthem” offers us a hallelujah that is anything but.
Jourdann Fraser, staff writer (jourdann ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, “Winter Song” – One of my favorite songs when it starts to get cold outside is “Winter Song.” It’s kind of a Christmas song, kind of a song about heartbreak. The harmonies between Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles warms me up and makes the cold a little more bearable. The bridge, especially, features overlapping harmonies between Michaelson and Bareilles that brings the song to its beautiful climax. I also enjoy the jumpy melody during the verses that makes the song fun to bop along to.
Dylan Grosz, staff writer (dgrosz ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Hiatus Kaiyote, “Laputa (Taylor McFerrin Remix feat. Anderson .Paak)” – To calm the existential dread of my first winter quarter last year, I constantly played this song during contemplative showers, speaker-less. Since Apple hasn’t yet discovered technology that would make their phones louder than the average shower, I would be forced to hold my ear to my phone’s speaker. I had stepped out of the shower stream at this point, but I now found myself intimately listening in on Nai Palm’s vivid imagery, her crystal clear delivery cutting through the shower’s white noise – “Mystic catacomb creeper/Who whispers stone cold / And as the mind follows deeper.” To offset the ethereal Nai Palm, Anderson .Paak’s grounding rasp continues to paint a marshy spectacle – “That’s my city lifting overboard / The queen in tattered clothing/She dreams of music overtures/She’s drifting over fog.” As the song closes out with distant howls, I begin to feel chills; I’ve been kept from the hot shower for four minutes now.
Trenton Chang, staff writer (tchang97 ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Ruck P, “Rise Up” – There’s something about the downtempo, lazy beat that makes this track perfect for the cold. Perhaps it’s the lonely electric piano that opens the track, or maybe it’s the plaintive vocals that ring out over the sparse arrangement. There’s no warmth to this track – the voices, the chords, the trumpet all sing in solitude, joined in rhythm tenuously as the beat keeps moving. It’s not an energetic track – the beat trudges through the music, but it manages to keep moving forward, prodded by the bass line bar after bar. This isn’t a track for bright and carefree days, but it will keep you moving and working through the end of the quarter as the days grow colder.
Nick Burns, staff writer (njburns ‘at’ stanford.edu)
U2, “The Unforgettable Fire” – The Edge’s guitar is always arctic and clean, but this song is especially wintery among U2’s catalogue, opening as it does with the line, “Ice – your only rivers run cold/These city lights, they shine as silver and gold.” The lyrics are vague rather than preachy (these being Bono’s two main lyrical modes), but in the right mood – a nighttime solo drive always being a good time for a tingly U2 sing-along, the song conjures up a kind of rich, dark, dangerous emotional landscape with unexpected, unsettling lines, like one about “red wine that punctures the skin.” U2’s songs, “One” being the most famous example, often do a good job of describing relationships as the cold wilderness they sometimes are, and this the title track from one of their best efforts is no exception.
Jacob Kuppermann, Music desk editor (jkupperm ‘at’ stanford.edu)
Belle & Sebastian, “If She Wants Me” – “If She Wants Me” belongs to a cold distinct from the one we’re currently braving, not that of overcast grey and a night-time that comes earlier every day, but of crisp winter mornings borne in on blue and cloudless skies. It’s a more romantic cold, one that lends itself more to a thoughtful melancholy than the weather we have now, which mostly has inspired complaining. The clean guitar tones and immaculately appointed piano and organ combos of “If She Wants Me” swirl like early winter breezes, but it’s Stuart Murdoch’s vocal performance, delivering his lyric with the exact degree of wistful angst to prevent them from devolving into the maudlin, that truly stands out here. It’s a delicate balancing act, but he pulls it off, with his voice cutting through the track like the pale sun on a late December morning.