Winter can be a gloomy and depressing season for some and an uplifting time full of promise for others. It’s long been used to great effect by songwriters to evoke emotions on both sides of that fence.
However the winter makes you feel, you’re sure to find a song that resonates with you. To help you out, I’ve put together a list of the 20 best songs about winter, starting with…
- The 20 Best Songs About Winter
- Winter Winds – Mumford & Sons (2009)
- A Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon & Garfunkel (1966)
- California Dreamin – The Mamas and the Papas (1965)
- Cold Weather Blues – Muddy Waters (1964)
- Coldest Winter – Kanye West (2008)
- Winter Things – Ariana Grande (2015)
- Wintertime – Norah Jones (2018)
- Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (2001)
- Misty – Kate Bush (2011)
- It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring) – Love Unlimited (1971)
- Let It Go – Frozen Soundtrack (2013)
- If We Make It Through December – Merle Haggard (1973)
- I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – Frank Sinatra (1961)
- Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! – Frank Sinatra (1950)
- A Long December – Counting Crows (1996)
- The Hounds of Winter – Sting (1996)
- When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die – Moby feat. Mimi Goese (1992)
- A Winter’s Tale – Queen (1995)
- Colder Weather – Zac Brown Band (2010)
- Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson (2008)
- Looking for More Great Music?
- The Best Songs About Winter – Final Thoughts
The 20 Best Songs About Winter
Winter Winds – Mumford & Sons (2009)
The British folk rockers use the winter wind as a metaphor for loneliness in their 2009 song. It comes from their debut album, Sigh No More. The protagonist is in a melancholy state, having just come out of a failed relationship. Suddenly, a beautiful woman appears in his life.
He can’t work out whether he’s fallen in love again or is just afraid of being by himself. As an internal battle rages between his head and his heart, he chooses to forego the new romance and strike out on his own.
A Hazy Shade of Winter – Simon & Garfunkel (1966)
Another sad winter song, this time from the legendary duo Simon and Garfunkel. The song is a rumination on not wasting the short time that we have on earth.
It’s about a prolific poet who, on reaching old age, has never had any of his verses published. Winter is approaching, and the first snow has arrived. A metaphor for nearing the end of his life. The progressing seasons also represent the various stages of life.
If there’s one piece of advice he can give to those starting on their journey through life, it’s to not waste the opportunities that come their way.
California Dreamin – The Mamas and the Papas (1965)
This 1965 classic from The Mamas and the Papas heralded the arrival of the 60’s counterculture. Anyone who’s spent time in a cold city during the depths of winter can relate to this one.
John and Michelle Phillips wrote this whilst holed up in New York during one of the coldest winters in years. Fed up with the freezing temperatures, the California natives were very much missing the sunshine of their home state. This song was born out of that frustration.
If only they were back in L.A., where everything would be “safe and warm.” A well-known entry on our list of the best songs about winter.
Cold Weather Blues – Muddy Waters (1964)
Nobody does the blues quite like Muddy Waters. And, what better subject to get all sad about than a lover who’s ignoring your calls during a cold, harsh winter? The only way to remedy this situation is to head down south to warmer climes and “let this winter pass on by.”
The winter he’s referring to could be taken literally as the weather. Or metaphorically, in the lack of attention from his neglectful lover. Either way, he’ll find the warmth of the sunshine and companionship as long as he can escape the “cold weather blues.”
Coldest Winter – Kanye West (2008)
Yet another song lamenting the loss of a loved one. And again, winter acts as a metaphor for the harder struggles of life.
This 2008 track was written by West in honor of his beloved mother, who had left this mortal coil the year before. He questions whether life will ever be the same again. And whether his ability to love has been compromised forever.
Winter can be the hardest time of the year if you are going through emotional turmoil. West encapsulates that experience perfectly here.
Winter Things – Ariana Grande (2015)
Finally, a positive song about enjoying winter. As you can see from the songs so far, most songs about winter use it as a metaphor for lost love or other melancholy experiences. “Winter Thing” flips the script.
It takes living in a hot climate for a long time to appreciate the cooler temperatures of winter. This uplifting song from Ariana Grande is all about embracing the winter. As well as enjoying all the things you can do when the snow comes to town.
Wintertime – Norah Jones (2018)
The different seasons can have a tremendous impact on people’s emotional states. You’ll know this if you’ve ever heard of the condition Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). “Wintertime” is Norah Jones’s beautiful manifestation of how much harder everything seems during the winter months.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The song acknowledges how depressing this time of year can be. But, it gently reminds us how love is all we need to see us through this potentially difficult time.
Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (2001)
This song has been interpreted in a myriad of different ways. In typical Nick Cave style, he weaves a story of desperation and isolation, a paralysis of feeling that numbs the body and mind. You can almost feel the bone-chilling cold through the speakers.
All sorts of theories have been put forward as to what he’s talking about, including cocaine use and an allegory about the former Soviet Union. Whatever it’s about, it’s as evocative a song about snow and winter as any song on this list.
Misty – Kate Bush (2011)
Certainly one of the more bizarre winter songs here. Although, we’d expect nothing less from the eccentric world of Kate Bush. “Misty” is taken from her album 50 Words For Snow. It’s a whole album dedicated to the white fluffy stuff.
The song recounts an amorous encounter with a snowman, no less. After building the snowman earlier in the day, he comes alive at night and enters through her bedroom window to lie down beside her. Their time together is short as the snowman has melted into a puddle of water by the morning.
It’s rather like the Raymond Briggs story “The Snowman” with an X-rated twist. While it might not an appropriate song for children, it’s a unique song about winter.
It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring) – Love Unlimited (1971)
Hooray! Another song that refuses to wallow in the gloom of winter. As long as your lover is by your side, it’s going to take more than a little bit of cold weather to get these girls down.
At the time, lead singer Glodean James was married to the walrus of love, Barry White. No doubt snuggling up to the big man at night was more than enough to keep those winter blues away.
Let It Go – Frozen Soundtrack (2013)
If you had a young daughter around the time of this movie’s release, then you will have undoubtedly heard this song before. Maybe a few too many times.
Sung by Idina Menzel, “Let It Go” is an inspirational song all about accepting who you are rather than striving to be the perfect girl. And, as a result, becoming frozen inside.
The ice princess Elsa yearns to become the most authentic version of herself in this empowering anthem to letting the spirit inside you take wings. “Let It Go” transcended the movie, winning an Oscar that year for Best Original Song.
If We Make It Through December – Merle Haggard (1973)
Hard times abound in this country crossover from Merle Haggard. It’s a song about a man desperately trying to keep the wolf from the door. He’s lost his factory job, and there’s no money in the kitty for the family to have a good Christmas.
Outside in the freezing snow, he apologizes to his daughter about the predicament they are in. He also promises that there will be better times ahead as long as they can make it through this bitterly cold time of year.
It’s a heart-wrenching story that truly displayed Haggard’s depth and range as a songwriter. For that alone, it earns its place among the best songs about winter.
I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm – Frank Sinatra (1961)
Time to lift those spirits again with this number from the legendary crooner Frank Sinatra. Sinatra didn’t write this song, but this is by far the most well-known version.
It’s a classic tale of coming in from the cold, stripping off those heavy winter clothes, and cuddling up with your girl by a roaring fire. There may be a snowstorm raging outside, but who cares?
That’s the last thing on this amorous couple’s mind. You get the feeling that they would stay there forever if they could. Many artists have covered this song over the years. But Frank Sinatra made it his own.
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! – Frank Sinatra (1950)
This seems like a suitable moment to include this other holiday classic from “The Chairman of the Board.” You’d have a tough job finding someone unfamiliar with “Let it Snow!” It’s an iconic song about the Christmas holidays and winter in general.
The theme is remarkably similar to “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” The protagonists are perfectly happy to let it snow as they have all the provisions necessary to stay holed up for days. They also have each other without a care in the world.
Is it just me, or were songs with winter as the subject from the 50s far more upbeat than what contemporary artists come up with?
A Long December – Counting Crows (1996)
Fast-forward to the 90s, and you’ll see what I mean about downbeat winter themed songs. This song from the alternative rock band Counting Crows is back in familiar territory. Having to face the harshness of December after a painful breakup.
The hope that things will get better is the only thing keeping the protagonist going. If he can make it through the long December, maybe things won’t be so bad on the other side. Thankfully, there’s a ray of sunshine in there somewhere.
The Hounds of Winter – Sting (1996)
If you’re looking for a song that perfectly encapsulates the feeling of being freezing cold and alone at the center of a raging blizzard, “The Hounds of Winter” is a good place to start. Evocative and haunting lyrics are accompanied by a beautiful melody that lives long in the memory.
Naturally, there is a background of a failed relationship to contend with. As well as the inclement weather. Lines like, “The hounds of winter have got me in their sights,” drive the depression home.
When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die – Moby feat. Mimi Goese (1992)
Taken from the seminal album, Everything Is Wrong. This track is a haunting reflection on how death might be preferable to living through the cold, dark, and gloomy months of winter without a lost love.
Singer Mimi Goese lends an almost ethereal air to the vocals. That serves to intensify the beautifully melancholic atmosphere of the song. Soaring orchestral sounds take the whole piece to another level.
A Winter’s Tale – Queen (1995)
Let there be light! Thankfully, we rise once again out of the depths of despair with this 1995 track from Queen. Released after the death of Freddie Mercury a few years earlier, the dreamy lyrics describe the winter scene the narrator witnesses whilst gazing out of the window.
The song captures the wondrously peaceful and magical sight that meets the eyes perfectly. The uplifting and joyful imagery the song brings to mind is in stark contrast to the usual themes of darkness and depression easily associated with winter.
It’s an ode to the majesty of winter in all its glory, best enjoyed in the company of those you love. Preferably next to a roaring fireplace.
Colder Weather – Zac Brown Band (2010)
“Colder Weather” is a soulful rumination on the blessings and curses of winter from the country music outfit the Zac Brown Band. The lyrics paint a vivid and poetic picture of a deep winter landscape.
It’s also about a fleeting romance between a traveling man and a woman who’d like things to become more serious than they are. Sadly for her, the road is always calling for this nomadic Romeo.
He uses the excuse of the awful winter weather as to why they can’t be together. In her heart of hearts, she knows that their relationship is destined to be a short one.
Winter Song – Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson (2008)
The last song on our list is an achingly lovely duet by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. The hauntingly beautiful lyrics evoke imagery of flowers growing beneath the snow, surviving the savage winter temperatures. Can love survive in a similar way? “Is love alive?”
The song is about a friendship or romance that is about to be torn apart by distance. Once again, winter weather is used as a metaphor for surviving the storm and hopefully keeping the flame of companionship intact.
Whilst the melancholy vibe is ever present; this song is also full of tentative hope for the future, an apt description of winter itself.
Looking for More Great Music?
If so, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About Depression, the Top Songs About Home, the Best Songs About Thunder and Lightning, the Best Songs About the Sun and Sunshine, and the Best Songs About Fire for more great song selections.
Of course, you need to hear those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, and the Best Cheap Earbuds Under $100 you can buy in 2023.
The Best Songs About Winter – Final Thoughts
The theme of winter has been a rich well that songwriters have drawn from ever since the art form began. The cold and desolation, along with the hope that spring is just around the corner, create fertile ground for emotional analogies. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many great songs have been written using winter as the background to tell a poignant story of lost love. Or the promise of a brighter future.
Did we miss any classic winter songs? Who would be on your list? Let us know in the comments if you noticed a glaring omission.
Until next time, happy listening.