UKULELE MUSINGS 2021, No. 6, 6 February 2021–“We’re New Englanders! Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it snow!”

I’m looking out the window onto a snowy, snowy landscape–with eleven inches on the ground and more on the way.  Needless to say, I am happy to be retired with no “shoulds or musts” on the calendar, just waiting for the plow guy to show up. (He did!) 

Having lived for many years in northern climes and then northern Virginia before “escaping” to New England, Alison and I were always amused at the way folks “down South” panicked at the mere thought of snow.

So, needless to say, my musical muse began to–shall we say–snowball!

Let’s warm up, so to speak, with a bit of “Winter Ragtime.” Click or tap on the next image or link for a listen to this oldie from 1906.

Looking back on songs of long ago, it seems that winter and snow were common themes—particularly  touching on romance or recreation or both. 

None, however, touch on the non-romantic, non-beautiful aspects of a heavy snowfall and its effect on simply going about one’s business.  That is, no songs about shovels, black ice, or just plain COLD! Well, maybe a few . . .

Bear with me, gentle readers, as I pull from my memory one of the more obscure tunes that touches on the theme–“Twas a Cold Winter’s Evening” also known as “O’Leary’s Bar.” Click or tap on the next image or link to hear a couple of fellow octogenarians work their way through this college-days oldie. They are a bit fuzzy on the lyrics but, otherwise, ageless!

If you–and who wouldn’t!–like the chords to this one, here they are. So, grab a pint and a uke and off you go!

[G7]Twas a [C]cold winters evening, the [F]guests were all leaving,
O'[C]Leary was [F]closing [G]bar. When he [C]turned and he said
To the [F]lady in red: “Get [C]out you can’t [F]stay where you [C]are.” [G7]
Sheeee . . . [C]shed a sad tear in her [F]bucket of beer,
As she [C]thought of the [F]cold night a-[C]head.
[G7] When a [C]gentleman handsome stepped [F]over the transom,
and [C]these are the [F]words that he [C]said:

[G7] “Her [C]mother [F]never told [C]her the [F]things a young girl should [C]know. [C]About the [F]ways of college [C]boys
and [D7]how they come and [G]go . . . mostly [G7]go.
Now [C]age has [F]taken her [C]beauty, and [F]sin has left it’s sad [E7]scar.
Sooooo Re-[F]member your mothers and [C]sisters [F]boys,
And [D7]let her sleep [G]under the [C]bar. — [G]Next [Am7]to [G]the [C7] gin.

I digress however, as I am wont to do from time to time.

But, moving on, there is some romance (or romantic intentions) to be found in the notion of “Cold.” Brrrrrr.

Here’s the song in its film version from 1949. Click or tap on the next image or link for a listen to this beautifully performed counter-duet. Who knew that Ricardo Montalban could sing?

Cold, snowy weather can bring about forced sequestration with which, sadly, we are way too pandemically familiar.  But, let’s move on with a look at some of the early wintry music sheets.   

Alas, I couldn’t find a YouTube of this rather odd but snow-related song. Anyway, click or tap on the next image or link for a great rendition of the 1970s song by the same name as sung and played by the late Doc Watson.

And, alas, there is the notion of “snow” as metaphor for life . . .

Moving on, we mustn’t forget those snowy winter sports and ways to play with or in the snow!

And, of course, the old favorite, as found in our Yellow Book. 

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” was written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne in 1945. Not really coping with the reality of winter, it was written in sunny, snowless Hollywood back in 1945 during a heat wave. Ah, musical imagination!

Here is one of the earlier recordings of this wintry roasted chestnut. Click or tap on the next image for a listen to Rosemary Clooney on this one.

Now here is probably a better notion of what Cahn and Styne were really thinking way back then–and with a ukulele no less! Click or tap on the next image or link to be as transported as they were.

Now, what about wintry, snowy ukuleles–plenty out there to peek at through our snowglasses!

And, of course, our favorite wintry ukulele made right here in our Happy Valley.

And, delightedly, here is me with mine on a decidedly unwintry day!

So stay safe, stay socially sequestered, stay scheduled for your vaccination, stay masked . . .

. . . and, even if snowbound, STAY TUNED!

And think SPRING!

Author: NohoBanjo of Northampton and, now, Easthampton, Mass.

Hi friends, neighbors, and fellow strummers. These “musings” are based on my interest and study of Banjo and Ukulele history, lore, and music. My goal is to both educate and enlighten by sharing what I have learned within a broad musical and historical context—with honesty and, at times, a bit of humor. Needless to say, your thoughts and comments are, as always, welcome.

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