When the weather turns cold and the snow begins to fall, there’s nothing better than listening to songs about winter. But just because you sit down to enjoy a nice winter song doesn’t mean it has to be a Christmas song.
That’s why, in this article, I’m going to provide you with a list of my favorite winter songs that are not Christmas related. And hopefully, you’ll find one or two great gems here that you can add to your playlist.
Hazy Shade of Winter by The Bangles (cover version)
This song is really a testament to the reflection of life, and more specifically, how did we get here…and are we happy with it? In it, Susanna Hoffs (co-founder of the Bangles) reflects on the closing of another chapter:
“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me.”
As I mentioned a little bit in the opening paragraph, it’s normal for us to reflect during the winter season because it operates as a rearview mirror of our life. It’s the last month of the year, so we get to look back at who we met, how we grew, and what changes we made that will set the stage for the coming year. Not every change is good, just as not every change is bad:
“Bound to be a better ride than what you’ve got planned.”
Isn’t that the truth? Many people may not realize that Hazy Shade of Winter was originally written by Simon and Garfunkel, more specifically by Paul Simon while he was visiting London. Hazy Shade of Winter reflects on the reality that what’s done is done, and what’s gone is gone and we have to learn to be okay with that. It’s one of my favorite songs on this list because of this.
A Long December by the Counting Crows
A Long December by the Counting Crows is about reflecting on what’s to come in the coming year and trying to think positively about it, though the future remains unwritten:
“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”
Lead singer Adam Duritz wrote this song as a way to try and see things from a glass-half-full perspective, which was out of his comfort zone. After visiting his friend in the hospital, Duritz started to reflect on the bad things that happened this year while remaining hopeful that good things were heading his way.
Truthfully, this song reminds me of something my dad said a while ago, which was “I wish you could see your life a year from now.” I’ve thought about it a lot since he died and how true it is. Even when things are going well, you never know what the next year is going to bring. December is a time of reflection, but it’s also a time to appreciate the little moments for you may eventually realize they were the big ones.
Winter Things by Ariana Grande
This song is about doing all those “winter things” with someone you love – like ice skating, curling up together by the fire, and living your best life. The problem? It’s 100 degrees where Ariana is, so she and her boyfriend have to visualize they’re somewhere cold.
This song is a cute way to get excited over all the fun things the winter season brings, so if you love this time of year, you’ll love the way she gets excited about these seasonal activities.
There’s not a ton of complexity behind these lyrics to give them deeper meaning, but there’s beauty in that. The winter season doesn’t have to be all about deep reflection or loneliness or even depression. In fact, it’s designed to be a fun, carefree, and whimsical time of year that people look forward to. As such, it’s the perfect song to get you in the festive spirit—even if it’s 100 degrees where you are.
California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas
It’s cold and you’d rather be somewhere warm. At its core, that’s what this song is about. Welp, I guess we can close the book on this one and move onto the next song, folks.
Just kidding, of course. Despite the song’s simple nature, band member Scott McKenzie said that the song was actually inspired by Michelle Phillips’ experience of waking up on a winter’s day in New York with nothing but her California clothes in her suitcase.
As such, the song basically recalled what Phillips did that day: she went for a walk, stopped in a church to get warm, and wished she was back in Los Angeles where she was comfortable.
“I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.”
Me too, Michelle Phillips, me too.
Winter Song by Sara Bareilles
December is used as a metaphor in this song, as it describes what it’s like to need a friend or relative—but unfortunately be far, far away from them. On this song, Sara Bareilles talks about still being there for her friends and family, even though she may not be able to run to her car and drive to their house.
“My voice; a beacon in the night, my words will be your light to carry you to me.”
Lyrics like this suggest that friendships and relationships of any kind can survive anything as long as you put the work in. And though other people may suggest that long distance friendships can’t metaphorically go the distance, that doesn’t have to be the case.
While the song was co-written by Sara Bareilles and her friend Ingrid Michaelson, I think the song works on a romantic level as well, especially with lyrics such as:
“This is my winter song. December never felt so wrong, ‘cause you’re not where you belong; inside my arms.”
Sure, this can refer to a platonic hug just as easily as it can relate to a long distance romance. References to December and the winter season are used to describe how many things can go wrong. “Love” can be buried beneath the snow, just like snowstorms can prevent people from flying out to see one another or even get home safely.
This song works on a multitude of levels, but at its core, it focuses on wanting to be with someone you love during what’s referenced as the most magical time of the year.
Wintertime Love by the Doors
“Winter’s so cold this year, you are so warm, my wintertime love to be.”
The weather may be cold, but her love is warm and that’s exactly what this song is about. Wintertime Love is a very simple song with a very straightforward message: Jim Morrison loves a girl, and it just so happens to be the middle of the season.
Deeper than that, this song is about how love can make us feel. Even when it’s cold, the right love keeps you warm, just like when it’s dark, their love is the light you look for.
The winter season, as I mentioned before, is naturally a self-reflective time of year. We tend to be a little bit more lonely since so much emphasis is placed on happiness and family. But if we have neither, it can make us feel isolated. Wintertime Love serves as a reminder that there are still bright spots when the world (or weather) seems too unforgiving.
Dear Winter by AJR
Dear Winter is a song dedicated to the lead singer’s daughter who doesn’t exist yet. As they say in the song, “I gotta meet your mom first.”
At its core, the father is telling his daughter, Winter, about how much he already loves her and what he expects of her. He hopes that she allows her heart to pursue romances and that even when she’s angry, she’ll still appreciate who he is and will still want to hang out with him. Though it’s not directly about winter, it’s a beautiful song for any dad waiting to meet his future child or simply dreaming of one this winter season.
If you’re an expectant dad, this is the song for you. While there are so many songs about being pregnant and meeting your child for the first time, a lot of the songs dedicated to expectant fathers tend to focus on fear rather than excitement. But Dear Winter isn’t one of them, and that’s what I really love about it.
Colder Weather by the Zac Brown Band
“I don’t want you but I need you.”
Who else’s heart just hurts listening to these lyrics? This song is about an almost relationship. Zac Brown leaves behind a woman who really loves him and wants to be with him, but anytime they have an opportunity to be together, he comes up with an excuse:
“It’s a shame about the weather. I know we’ll be together.”
I think many of us ultimately relate to this song because we’ve all fallen in love with the wrong people at the wrong time sometime during our lives. Or, sometimes we just fell in love with the right people at the wrong time. When you fall in love with someone who constantly makes excuses, you sadly get kind of used to it. I know I did, so anytime that person I had a crush on would pay attention to me, I’d soak it all in like I was a plant preparing for my last rainstorm.
If you’re in the middle of this kind of relationship, or semi-relationship, wishing it was more this winter season, this is the perfect song to listen to and cry it out with.
Sweater Weather by the Neighborhood
“It’s too cold for you here and now, let me hold both your hands in the holes of my sweater.”
Romantic, right? Well, according to an article on PopCrush, the lyrics are a bit more suggestive than meets the eye. Still, though, the song at face value gives off major winter vibes because it talks about sweaters, falling in love with someone, and wanting to be with them.
“These hearts adore, everyone the other beats hardest for inside this place is warm, outside it starts to pour.”
Taking the suggestive nature away from this song, I think Sweater Weather by the Neighborhood actually holds a lot of symbolic meaning about what we all kind of crave during the winter season: human connection.
Sure, this song talks about it more in terms of physical intimacy, but being with someone we love, whether romantically or platonically, is simply part of the winter experience. There’s a reason why the winter season is commonly referred to as “cuffing” season—the time of year between October and Valentine’s Day when single people look for temporary relationships to celebrate the season with. No one wants to experience the winter season alone.
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! by Frank Sinatra
Okay, I know I said no Christmas songs. But, in my defense, just because this song is played a lot during Christmas doesn’t technically make it a Christmas song…right? Right?
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! is Sinatra’s way of saying that since he’s inside, at home, with his love, he doesn’t care what the weather outside is like because there’s no other place he’d rather be.
It’s a very sweet sentiment and while there are a ton of Christmas classics that reference the winter season, Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! doesn’t necessarily have to be about yuletide cheer or familial traditions. Rather, it takes a look at how comforting it is to simply be with the one you love.
I know, personally, that’s what I adore about the winter season. While it’s busier at work and colder walking to my car, it makes me appreciate the quiet moments when it’s just me and my loved one curled up on the couch or decorating the tree with our favorite movie in the background. And, since snow can happen anytime during the winter season, it ends up being much more than just a traditional Christmas carol.
Hopefully, these songs about winter have excited you enough to listen to a couple of these great jams once the weather turns cold and your heart is craving something warm, comfy, and cozy to listen to. From the Zac Brown Band to Ariana Grande and even Frank Sinatra, there’s definitely something on this list for everyone!
You Might Also Like:
- Songs About Hurricanes
- Songs About Good Men
- Songs About the Friend Zone
- Songs About Fighting Back
- Songs About Greed
- Bands with Colors in Their Name
This song was written by Courtney and edited by Michael.