There are two types of people: those who love winter, and those who loathe it. The former group will insist that outdoor sports and hot chocolate are worth the frozen fingers, while the latter set will contend that having to wear three layers of clothing just to go outside is not a good time.
However, there is one thing upon which these groups can agree: music. Specifically, songs that empathize with — or are about — winter, that either find the silver lining in the coldest months of the year or use the season as a backdrop to illuminate some greater truths.
Because we all need something to make those cold-morning commutes and below-zero days a little bit easier to bear, the following are The Boot's Top 10 country songs about winter.
Who needs summer? Monroe is a-okay with winter, because it reminds him of romance -- more specifically, because fresh snow on the ground once allowed him to track down his beloved via her footprints. Although the song laments that she's now deceased, a flurry or two still has the ability to make him smile: "But every time the snow falls, it brings back memories / For I found her when the snow was on the ground."
For the protagonist of this Avett Brothers song, winter is a state of mind — or, more specifically, his or her emotional state. "Calendar says July 4th / But it's still winter in my heart," the band sings mournfully, their voices tinged with melancholy. The lyrics never specify a reason for this chilly demeanor, although the (admittedly lovely) musical saw and trudging piano throughout the tune do nothing to lighten the mood.
This bluegrass-leaning song praises the comforting power of love, and how it keeps people warm during the colder months. "Our love was like a burning ember / It warmed us as a golden glow," Harris trills. "We had sunshine in December / And threw our roses in the snow." These memories keep her afloat even after her beloved has passed away: "And when winter snows start fallin' / On his grave I'll place a rose."
There are plenty of songs about summer flings. McGraw, however, recorded a song about an ephemeral winter romance, the kind that keeps you warm on chilly January nights. Appropriately, the dalliance takes place in snowy Telluride, Colo., where the song's main character spends the winter with a mysterious woman, "tangled up by a fire / Castin' shadows on the cabin wall, drownin' in desire." Alas, all good things must end, and she departed after a spell, leaving her bereft ex with a "frozen heart."
Brooks has written a ton of winter-themed songs, although this early tune ranks among his best. The wolves in the title are literal — animals that had "pulled down" a farmer's cows — and figurative: the bank that displaced a neighbor after hard times. Either way, Brooks uses the song as a call for temperance and benevolence. "Lord, please shine a light of hope / On those of us who fall behind," he implores. "And when we stumble in the snow / Could you help us up while there's still time?"
This breezy, vintage country hit is deceptively upbeat: Murray describes a snowbird she's always interpreted as chirping to her about spring, a comforting thought. Now that she's a little older (and, sadly, wiser), she longs for the bird to take not just the snow away — but also rescue her from an unfaithful love. This isn't to be, however: Heartbroken and resigned, she sighs, "And if I could you know that I would / Fly away with you."
Musically, this wrenching, piano- and fiddle-dominated Zac Brown Band ballad feels like a frozen winter day, one where your fingers get numb right after leaving the house. This sonic landscape fits the song's lyrics to a T: A woman and her long-distance trucker beau pine for each other and are frustrated by distance, the latter's stubborn penchant for traveling and their uneven relationship goals. "He said, 'I wanna see you again / But I'm stuck in colder weather,'" Brown sings. "'Maybe tomorrow will be better / Can I call you then?'"
In this early Underwood hit, winter is the backdrop for a renewal of faith. On Christmas Eve, a young mother is distracted while driving, and "before she knew it, she was spinning on a thin black sheet of glass." Panicked, she calls out to Jesus to "take the wheel" — literally, to save her from crashing, but also figuratively, as she realizes that giving into Him is the only way to live her life.
Touring in the winter is rough, especially when the trek brings musicians through snowy mountain roads and desolate towns. On the sterling "Traveling Alone," Isbell reveals he's weary of navigating these treacherous climes by himself. More than anything, however, he's tired of going through life without a partner: "Won't you ride with me?" he pleads throughout, a line with simplicity and longing that cuts to the quick.
December is just the start of winter, but it can be the cruelest month. That's the experience of the protagonist in this classic Haggard classic tune, who's lost his job and is upset he may not be able to make Christmas right for his daughter. "It's meant to be the happy time of year," Hag sigs. "And my little girl don't understand / Why daddy can't afford no Christmas here." He keeps optimism alive by dreaming of being in a "warmer town" by summer, "maybe even California," and vows, "If we make it through December, we'll be fine."