Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Actually, it's not that cold where I am, but there's still that lovely little nip of winter air and a chance to wear some fabulous sweaters and jackets.

Beside fashionable outerwear and a great excuse for wearing boots, I love December because it's cold enough to have a fire. I can sit by the fire, with a lovely cup of Earl Grey, and read. I usually do this while listening to holiday music. I am extremely picky about my holiday music. Since I was in choirs when I was young, I tend not to like certain standards (having had to sing them) or dislike most recorded versions (because my choir(s) did them better). I like some traditional choir stuff, but my favorite music from my childhood (which I listen to over and over and annoy Cerinthus), is Bruce Cockburn's Christmas. It's a lovely non-traditional album with adept guitar and a folk twang.

Since I annoy Cerinthus so much with this album, I have been interested in finding some holiday music we can both enjoy. So when I noticed that there was a Glee [1] Christmas Album I decided I would listen to one of the songs on youtube. I had never heard "Baby, It's Cold Outside," but since it was sung by Chris Colfer and Darren Chriss, I thought I should listen to their version. I found it to be charming and absolutely adorable. I also discovered that I really liked the song because it sounded like it was out of one of the 1940s and 1950s musicals which I watched as a kid, so I did some research on its history.

Christmas Baby, It's Cold Outside (Glee Cast Version)
The song has made the Top 100s chart six times since it was put out commercially in 1949. According to Wikipedia, Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944 and debuted it with his wife, Lynn Garland, at a Christmas party. He sold it, against her wishes, in 1948 and it won an academy award when it appeared in Neptune's Daughter in 1949.

One of my favorite things about the song is that the parts are not described as "girl" and "guy," but rather "Mouse" and "Wolf." "Wolf" is sort of a wonderfully sinister name, and perfectly captures the questionable nature of the character, who is asked by the "Mouse," "Say, what's in this drink?" [2].

I have not, as of yet, found any other versions I like of this song. Some fabulous people sing it, but often the great voice of the "Mouse" is undermined by a problematic "Wolf" or the annoying and cartoonish-sounding "Mouse" overwhelms the crooning "Wolf." However, there are some pretty amusing versions, such as June Carter's ridiculous country trio version and some absolutely absurd individual did a techno-remix of Louis Armstrong's version (which should be more aptly titled "Mama, It's Cold Outside). I have no idea what the person was thinking.

  1. I started watching Glee when Ana Marie Cox tweeted about it. I confess, I started watching the campy series, and enjoying it. It's thoroughly predictable and overly moralizing, but I really enjoy the campiness and I love the character of Kurt (Chris Colfer), who is also endowed with an amazing voice.
  2. On the other hand, it might not be as sinister as I see it, because I do not think that there was a lot of GHB in the 1940s, so perhaps this is simply a reference to more alcohol than normal. Furthermore, the "Mouse" is certainly not as mousy as (s)he appears, since (s)he seems more concerned with the appearance of wanting to leave than the reality ("I ought to say 'no, no, no, sir' / at least I can say that I tried") and the "Wolf" reports that the "Mouse" touches his/her hair.

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