Arts and Culture Music

WCCS Winter Playlist

By Michael Kanyongolo and John Morris 

To listen to more of Michael and John’s favorite music, tune in to “No Static At All” on Thursdays from 7-8 at 

Michael’s Winter Picks
George Harrison - George Harrison

Here Comes the Moon – George Harrison

If Here Comes the Sun is the perfect soundtrack for a sunny summer day, Here Comes the Moon is the perfect song for a cozy winter night. George Harrison’s soft vocal harmonies induce an infectious sense of relaxation, and his kaleidoscopic lyrics will send you drifting into a deep and restful sleep. A perfect sister song to one of The Beatles’ greatest hits, Here Comes the Moon pairs nicely with a hot mug of cocoa and a warm blanket, hopefully near a view of the stars. 

Caribbean Blue - song and lyrics by Enya | Spotify

Caribbean Blue – Enya 

Enya is anything if not atmospheric, and Caribbean Blue is a perfect example of her larger-than-life ambiance. Harmonies interweave and flow together like great gusts of wind, carrying melodies like falling snowflakes. Winter can be dark, gloomy, and overbearing, but this isn’t always a bad thing. Take back the gloom with this contemplative track and reflect upon a world frozen by Mother Nature.

Eye In The Sky - song and lyrics by The Alan Parsons Project | Spotify

Old and Wise – The Alan Parsons Project 

If the seasons were a family, I think winter would be the wise elder of the group. A snow-white beard, icy, crystalline eyes, it all just makes sense. To take it one step further, if the seasons were a family, and winter was the elder, Old and Wise would be its swan song. Sung by The Zombies’ vocalist Colin Blunstone, this pensive ballad serves as a powerful closer to The Alan Parsons Project’s 1982 album Eye in the Sky, and can now serve as a closer to a year of changing seasons. 

Sunny - song and lyrics by Boney M. | Spotify

Sunny – Boney M 

Just because the theme of the playlist is winter doesn’t mean that every song has to be a cold, gray reflection of the weather outside. If you need to cut through that overcast sky, listen to Sunny by Boney M. Distinctly warm, this disco track shows off the best of the 70s with expertly produced string hits, slick guitar licks, and soaring vocal harmonies that are sure to brighten any gloomy winter day.  

Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends - Music

Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon & Garfunkel 

While winter isn’t technically a color, Simon and Garfunkel surround the listener with colorful descriptions of changing seasons in their song Hazy Shade of Winter, from the 1968 album Bookends. Driven by a playfully energetic acoustic guitar and backed by Simon’s jaunty vocal delivery, Hazy Shade of Winter carries the same energy as a snowball fight on the first snowfall of the year. LA New Wave band The Bangles has a great cover of this gusty track, layering vocal harmonies over a powerful electric guitar and turning this flurry of excitement into a snowstorm of energy.

John’s Winter Picks 

Country Girl:

  A: Whiskey Boot Hill

  B: Down, Down, Down

  C: Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty)

  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Known perhaps much more simply as “Country Girl”, this song appears towards the end of CSNY’s near-perfect debut album Déjà Vu. The song is, and I don’t say this lightly, a masterpiece. Split into three distinct sections, the song’s lyrics touch on love, heartbreak, and a critique of the celebrity culture in 1970s Los Angeles. It’s a love song drenched in a looming sense of the inevitable, a story told in reverse. The song, as far as I understand it, chronicles the thoughts of a man who sees a pretty girl in a bar and instantly imagines a life with her, the good and the bad. The narrator knows that all he has to do to embark on this harrowing, awful, wonderful, and dangerous journey with her is to tell her “Country Girl, I think you’re pretty”, which is exactly how the song’s outro goes. These are, by far, the most simple lyrics in the song, which features such incredible lines as “Find out that now was the answer to answers that you gave later / She did the things that we both did before now, but who forgave her? / If I could stand to see her crying I would tell her not to care / When she learns of all your lying, will she join you there?” Ending with something as simple as “Country Girl, I think you’re pretty” highlights the power of these words, and that all the heartbreak and love that he envisions is hidden within these words. The instrumentation is urgent and dramatic, as if begging to be heard and hoping to be understood. The sweeping organ that plays throughout the chorus amplifies the tragedy of Neil Young’s lyrics, and the wailing harmonica in the outro is perhaps the best use of the instrument that I have ever heard. I truly think it is impossible to not be moved by this song, and I think for that reason, it’s one of the most important songs ever written. I absolutely love this track, and I hope you find as much comfort in it as I have. 

Sade – Like a Tattoo Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

Like a Tattoo – Sade 

Off Sade’s 1992 album Love Deluxe, “Like A Tattoo” is a complex and lyrical rich song. The lyrics of the song detail an old soldier speaking on the trauma he carries from war, and the immense shame he feels from his actions, which he wears “like a tattoo”. The lyrics are poetic, straying from specifics and instead focusing on abstract and hazy snapshots from the soldier’s memories. The instrumentation is unlike Sade’s other songs, but is similarly luscious and atmospheric. It’s a song that feels as precious and fragile as the secrets told by the soldier in the song, and it’s phenomenal for stargazing and similarly introspective activities. I think the song nails how daunting it can be to open up to someone, but how much stronger your connection is as soon as you do. Sade don’t miss y’all.

Rebel Yell (album) - Wikipedia

Eyes Without A Face – Billy Idol 

Admittedly, I don’t know much Billy Idol, save for the embarrassingly 80’s and undeniably badass “White Wedding”, the guitar riff to which has been forever seared into my brain. But “Eyes Without A Face” is a very different type of song. It’s a much more subtle and sensitive song than audiences would expect from the shirtless man with bleached hair on an album titled Rebel Yell, but its lush, atmospheric synths and honest lyrics paint a gorgeous image of a man struggling to balance his sanity with his impulses. The rock-heavy bridge describes the Hunter Thompson-esque lifestyle that Idol finds himself drawn to, but the subdued tone of the chorus shows his internal struggle with this desire and his resentment towards how attractive he finds his own destruction. What’s not to love?

The Little Dippers – Forever (1960, Vinyl) - Discogs

Forever – The Little Dippers

There are a hundred billion sappy love songs out there, so if you have to listen to one of them to keep yourself warm this winter, please let it be this one. The song is composed of a simple baseline, a slow guitar part, a sparse piano line, and a small batch of highly concentrated lyrics. The lyrics are as follows: “Hold me / Kiss me / Whisper sweetly / That you love me / Forever”, which gets repeated twice with a key change in the middle. They’re straight, simple, and to the point. Their sparseness speaks to their importance, and the fact that they stand alone, save for some lovely harmonies in the middle, gives them such importance. It’s a song drenched in that sweet and tender love that only ever exists in the best love songs, and creates a world that I could live in “forever.” Get it? 

Breathe – Neptune and the Sailor

Neptune and the Sailor is a band composed of four seniors at William Paterson University, and “Breathe” is a song about taking comfort in nature Written by their lead guitarist Eoin O’Mara, the song examines how hard it can be to understand yourself as you get older, and how we all seek to find things in the world around us to connect to and to help us on our journey. The bridge, which features some great harmonies from the other members of the band, is undoubtedly the most powerful moment in the song. The outro stands as a burst of hope in a song otherwise ridden with confusion and desire for something larger than yourself. The instrumentation, however, is anything but confused, featuring some really stellar playing from all the sailors, even Neptune himself.