Alright, so in the global north, specifically Minnesota, Winter’s here. Even as the global temperature rises, this guest still bites and stings. Bundled up in three layers of hoodies and hats (but only one layer of pants), there is no respite from its harshness for this pedestrian. Worse, while the arrival of the winter signified the end of this Fall semester at my linked-in college, my computer needs have not come to a close. From negotiating my grades to submitting to journals and getting other writing jobs, I kind of need (and dread) that twenty-some minute walk to, and definitely from, my local library.
Fortunately, two little buds with squishy bits that stick into my ears are snuggly stuck in place by hats and hoods whenever I walk outside, connecting me to the intoxicating noises coming from a postage stamp of a music-playing device.
I’ve been adjusting the playlist lately to include songs that complement the winter. Tracks about the season are easy to find for me, melodies like Atmosphere’s “Bitter” (which compares a person’s unpleasantness to a Minnesota winter [although other reasons may have influenced why I added it for my implacable listening pleasure, perhaps even an agent whose name loosely rhymes with “Shit, why?!” because I like having public Internet access]) easy for me to think of on the spot.
Entire CDs are perfect at encapsulating the winter season and are available at my library, at least. (I mean, as long as iTunes plans to logged out permanently and music streaming services in the states are going to be affected by changes in Internet policy, might as well pull out the Discman.) Albums like Daughter’s If You Leave and Snow Patrol’s Fallen Empires express two different sides of winter for me, the first haunting and bleak (especially in tracks like “Winter” and “Lifeforms”), the other making me feel uplifted and hopeful in a forlorn environment like that outside my house, all hissing wind and solid snow.
For a more Pagan-y winter record, Within Temptation’s somewhat-storied choral-meets-metal Mother Earth revels in archetypes like “Mother Earth,” “Ice Queen,” and “Deceiver of Fools.” Unlike Daughter and Snow Patrol, this band has a more grand and blustery approach to their music, aiding a listener who wants to surround themselves with as well as fight the chill. And honestly, the vocal style is quite enchanting.
These are all great for the cold ambience and potential winter spells (musically bleak and blustery, keywords “cold,” “ice,” “snow,” “winter”), which is nice and all, but what about forgetting my wintry woes on the walk?
There are also hot singles in my area.
I have to start my profile with Will Smith’s “Miami” from his 1997 Big Willie Style. The words work to transport the listener to an upbeat 90’s Miami, a landscape populated with hot weather, beach parties, and adoring Spanish-speaking voices. I mean, “Miami brings the heat for real.” Along with its words, claps meter out the whole song, keeping a potential pedestrian going at a consistently brisk speed to wherever they’re heading to on a January day.
Bananarama’s “Venus” may be most warming to Pagans and Witches within the Roman pantheon in focus, but it’s a generally good song for the winter wanderer. “I’m your Venus / I’m your fire, your desire” is pretty clear with its sexually warm connotation but like, fire. Fire is hot and Venus is a deity folks pull magic and worship from, even if these aren’t exactly the focus of the track. If you blush, you’ll know there is still some heat to you as it rises to the surface. Also, in the version on a CD available from my library, there are prominent electric drums that maintain a steady, quick-paced beat. Like “Miami,” “Venus” has a great walking beat to keep a traveler travelling.
My warm-spell proficient profile wouldn’t nearly be complete without an album full up with Donna Summer: Gold (specifically “Disc 1” for this post, although there are two [with the second disc being the most danceable]). In this compilation of the hits from this daughter of disco, an entire one-hour journey is encapsulated, from “Could It Be Magic” to “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It,” “Spring Affair,” “I Feel Love,” “Heaven Knows” and, of course, “Hot Stuff.” If you’re out for that entire hour, Summer’s duet with Barbra Streisand “No More Tears (Enough is Enough)” will feel highly appropriate. Even with slower songs present, the vast amount of upbeat tunes will have one dancing through waits for traffic lights to change.
While keywords “fire,” “heat,” “hot,” “summer” are significant, the beat is the most important for keeping warm. Body heat just feels like a tactile thing, less emotionally calculable than cold spells. Whether you can hear the words or not, it’s ideal to check what they are (to see if they are agreeable to you, although it’s better if you can feel the beat [which I know is harder to do (sometimes near impossible) with headphones or earbuds than a public performance]). The most integral part of music making you hot is shaking what you have, whether arms, hips, legs. I have all of these appendages and I use all of them when I dance-walk. Whether your whole body shimmies or you just sway, you’re doing fine as long as it makes you warmer than you were before.
As I rub out sore legs instead of my usual cold legs as I type this out, I have other tips about staying warm this season (although I could use more [please comment them below!]):
(1) Tuck your pinkie, ring, middle, or index finger underneath your thumb. It works for temporary increases in body heat.
(2) Dress in layers, but be wary especially if you know you’re going to walk (or dance) for a long while—make sure you don’t overdress to the point that you sweat profusely. Sweat will freeze, making you colder.
(3) Try to avoid moving through the cold when you’re really tired. Bodies lose heat as they prepare for sleep.
And (4) if you travel on the sidewalks and streets in a big public transit city that gets rather cold, like Minneapolis for example, find a bus stop. They’re installed with heaters.
“I need hot stuff”
– “Hot Stuff,” Donna Summer, Gold [Disc 1]