The exhilaration of a sudden rainstorm. The startling boom of a thunderstorm. Weather not only has the power to wreak havoc with your electricity, it also has the power to evoke strong emotions.
That’s why it’s been a natural source of inspiration for songwriters through the ages. Here are some of the ways musicians have paid homage to our changing seasons:
“Frosty the Snowman,” written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, was first recorded in 1950 by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys. The song captured the playful side of winter, weaving a tale about children who build a snowman only to see him come to life. Check out Jimmy Durante’s classic version.
Simon and Garfunkel captured a darker side of the season with “Hazy Shade of Winter” in 1966. Nebraskans can certainly relate to the seemingly never-ending grayish white sky that comes with a long, cold winter as well as the line “… seasons change with the scenery…” The song gained new popularity when The Bangles covered it in 1987.
Foreigner also sang about the bitter chill of the season. But in 1977’s “Cold as Ice,” the lyrics described a lover’s indifference in the midst of a bad break-up.
Many of us find ourselves with a serious case of spring fever before the season even arrives. Frank Sinatra sang about that anxious feeling back in 1961 in “It Might as Well be Spring.” “I’m as giggly as a baby on a swing,” he crooned, even though, “I haven’t seen a crocus or rosebud or a robin on the wing.”
That warmer weather does bring chirping birds and budding trees, but it also brings severe weather. The concept of it being both a blessing and a curse is captured in Live’s 1994 hit, “Lightning Crashes.” The haunting lyrics describe an old mother dying as a new baby is born.
Garth Brooks’ “Thunder Rolls,” from 1991, describes severe weather moving in from the outside as a storm of another kind brews inside a couple’s marriage.
The song struck a chord with listeners, earning Brooks his sixth No. 1 song on the country singles chart, with plenty of crossover appeal.
And, of course, who can forget the classic “Stormy Weather,” by the great Lena Horne.
With the heat of summer, comes the passion of love – or so claim a number of songs that have topped the music charts through the years. “Heat Wave,” by Martha and the Vendellas, came out in 1963. Fifteen years later, Olivia Newton John and John Travolta drummed up some heat of their own in Grease. One of the most memorable songs from the movie, “Summer Nights,” told two very different versions their characters’ summer fling, setting up the storyline to come.
Eddie Cochran sang about the “Summertime Blues” in 1958. His song was less of a celebration and more of a rant about work and being a teenager. Bananarama also sang about the perils of summer in 1983’s “Cruel Summer”: “Hot summer streets and the pavements are burning,” the British songstresses harmonize. “Sit around trying smile but the air is so heavy and dry.”
Come to think of it, dry heat sounds pretty good to us Midwesterners!
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince brought the happy back to summer with their 1991 hit “Summertime.” They also brought the beat. “Pop in my CD and let me run a rhyme and put your car back on cruise,” Smith says, “and lay back cause this is summer time.” Of course, the list goes on, as more contemporary musicians like Katy Perry are finding summer sells.
As summer winds down, so do the melodies. In 1984, Don Henley, late of the Eagles, released “Boys of Summer,” marking down the final days of summer as autumn approaches. The song is also remembered for its award-winning video featuring a little boy rocking the drums.
The Kinks embraced the fall with their upbeat song “Autumn Almanac,” released in 1967. The song was a celebration of the changing season with lyrics like, “I like my football on a Saturday. Roast beef on Sundays, all right.” It was about neighbors coming together as the weather turned colder.
But the colder weather gave way to a bitter ballad in 1992 with the release of Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain.” Lead singer Axl Rose wrote the somber-toned ballad. Green Day also went the sad route in 2009 with their hit “Wake Me When September Ends,” which draws parallels between autumn and death. The lead singer’s father died in September. The season, he sings, is so painful that he wants to skip it entirely.