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Best songs about snow
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The 11 best snow songs

Another day, another three inches of snow? Here’s a playlist of snow songs to get you through the blizzard.

Written by
Andrew Frisicano
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The myth goes that Inuits have 50 words for snow, and the pop canon contains many, many songs about it, too. It’s no wonder – few metereological phenomena can be at once so gorgeous and yet so devastating. On the one hand, songs about snow can conjure of being cozy and warm, snuggled up with a mug of hot cocoa next to a roaring fire as a winter wonderland forms outside. On the other hand, too much snow can also trap you inside, and thus serve as a metaphor for chilly feelings that cannot be thawed. In any case, snow has served as the inspiration for many great songs. Here are 11 that’ll help you appreciate the chilly months – or, if you live in a region without true seasons, experience them vicariously.

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Best snow songs, ranked

“A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel

1. “A Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon & Garfunkel

“Time, time, see what’s become of me,” mourn Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel in the opening verse of this 1966 tune. Winter, in this case, acts as an allegory for the loss of youth, and the promise that it signifies. (The song, by the way, was written when Simon was all of 25 years old—dude was freaking out over nothing!) Winter is a time when hope is lost; springtime, with its promise of renewal, is when you might be able to feel a glimmer of happiness again.

Key lyric: “Look around / Leaves are brown / And the sky is a hazy shade of winter”

“New York City” by They Might Be Giants

2. “New York City” by They Might Be Giants

Boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love in New York City (on the Bowery, no less); boy leaves NYC but travels back to be with the girl he loves. The seasonal imagery is good here, but the New York City references—“We kissed on the subway in the middle of the night”—make it one of our favorite winter and New York songs.

Key lyric: “You said, ‘It’s snowing / It’s snowing / God, I hate this weather!’ / Now I walk through blizzards just to get us back together”

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“The Ice of Boston” by the Dismemberment Plan

3. “The Ice of Boston” by the Dismemberment Plan

​Winter sucks—but being all alone in a city you don’t know very well on New Year’s Eve? That really sucks. Love lost seems to be a popular theme for wintry tunes, and this song from the Washington, D.C., indie-rockers sums up those feelings of rejection and loneliness (and how winter makes them a thousand times worse) pretty perfectly.

Key lyric: “Hey! / The ice of Boston is muddy and reflects no light / At day or night / And I slip on it every time”

“While I Shovel the Snow” by the Walkmen

4. “While I Shovel the Snow” by the Walkmen

Here’s the thing about snow in New York City: It turns disgusting and slushy within a day of a storm blowing through. But for those first few hours—when the snow is falling and has just settled, gently, onto the ground? You won’t find a more beautiful sight, we reckon. The Walkmen capture this perfectly in the video for this track, off 2010’s Lisbon; the band wanders around Brooklyn Bridge Park during one of those pretty NYC snowstorms. The song itself even evokes a wintry feeling, with little more than a spare guitar riff carrying it along.

Key lyric: “There’s no life like the snow life”

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“Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

5. “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

This doomy blues elegy seems to be about not just any old cold snap; we’re thinking full-on nuclear winter. Apparently, all of Nick’s friends forgot their mittens and are buried alive under the white stuff—no big deal. This is a good one to listen to while you’re staring out the window at the accumulation, glass of whiskey in hand.—Jenna Scherer

Key lyric: “It’s too quiet in here and I’m beginning to freeze / I’ve got icicles hanging from my knees / Under 15 feet of pure white snow”

“White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes

6. “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes

A legitimate hymn, in that it sounds vaguely praiseful – some hip choirs have even incorporated it into their seasonal repertoires – the lush harmonies from the Seattle indie-folk group will send the good kind of chills up your spine, while a perusal of the actual lyrics might give you the bad kind of goosebumps. ‘And, Michael, you would fall/And turn the white snow red as strawberries in the summertime?’ Is this song actually about a bad snowboarding accident or something?

Key lyric: “I was following the pack all swallowed in their coats / With scarves of red tied ’round their throats / To keep their little heads from falling in the snow”

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“Snowblind” by Black Sabbath

7. “Snowblind” by Black Sabbath

It’s not photokeratitis Ozzy is singing about but a condition caused by another kind of fluffy white powder (the part where he yells “Cocaine!” is a good tip-off). Still, head banging to Tony Iommi’s massive riff should keep you warm no matter how low the temperature gets.—Andrew Frisicano

Key lyric: “My eyes are blind but I can see / The snowflakes glisten on the tree”

“I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Billie Holiday

8. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Billie Holiday

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how gross it is outside: As long as you have a few key things at your disposal—a nice pot of soup, some booze, maybe a really good book—you’ll be able to make it through, all right. This tune, penned by Irving Berlin, outlines perhaps the most important thing to have on hand during a blizzard: another warm body to snuggle up to.

Key lyric: “What do I care how much it may storm? / I’ve got my love to keep me warm”

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“Coldest Winter” by Kanye West

9. “Coldest Winter” by Kanye West

This ode to Ye's mother after her passing in 2007 is a tragic, haunting thumper. His live performances are accordingly epic, featuring the artist unleashing hoards of fake snow on an unsuspecting audience at the Hollywood Bowl in 2015, and a red-eyed demon that would take the stage following the song during the Yeezus Tour.

Key lyric: "If spring can take the snow away / Can it melt away all our mistakes?" 

“Winter in America” by Gil Scott-Heron

10. “Winter in America” by Gil Scott-Heron

As miserable as you may feel while you’re slushing through the streets or snowed in at home, it surely does not compare to the despair Gil must have felt in 1974 while penning this bleakest of national portraits that compares the failures of the civil-rights and peace movements to an endless deep freeze.

Key lyric: “And ain’t nobody fighting / ’Cause nobody knows what to save”

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“California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas

11. “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas

It’s associated with the eternal summer of the American West Coast, but the key word of this seminal ‘60s folk song is ‘dreamin’.’ John and Michelle Phillips wrote the tune while shivering through a harsh New York winter, apparently trying to beat back the cold by conjuring memories of feeling ‘safe and warm’ back home in L.A. The song’s been transporting listeners to California ever since.

Key lyric: “I've been for a walk/On a winter's day/If I didn't tell her/I could leave today”

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