Saturday Single No. 419

It’s three degrees outside this morning, decidedly cold for mid-November as we – like friends all across most of the U.S. – cope with the effects of the Polar Vortex. I could go the cheap and easy route – as I did on Facebook a few moments ago – and post a tune by the Three Degrees and then call it a day here. I won’t though. We’ll take a bit more care than that as we look for this week’s Saturday Single.

We’ll tell the RealPlayer to search for the word “cold.” As happens frequently with these types of searches, we’ll have to winnow the results a bit. We lose almost the entire catalog of the San Francisco band Cold Blood. (“We Came Down Here/Cold Blood Smokin’” from the 1976 album Lydia Pense & Cold Blood survives, but it’s unlikely to be today’s selection), and we lose everything on the shelves by Coldplay. We also lose full albums: the 1970 release Cold Fact by the recently rediscovered artist Rodriguez; 1995’s Exit on Coldharbour Lane by A3; the soundtrack to the 2004 film Cold Mountain; and everything but the title track from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1975 album Cold On The Shoulder (and that title track showed up here not quite a year ago, anyway).

That leaves us with maybe 150 or so tracks to tangle with this morning, ranging in time from the promotional 1926 track “I Got Your Ice Cold Nugrape” by the Nugrape Twins to the 2014 track “Where The Rivers Run Cold” by the Infamous Stringdusters. And as I scan the cold tale of years, I’m struck by multiple versions of several tunes: In 1928, Bertha Hill recorded “Some Cold Rainy Day” as a parlor blues, and five years later, Curly Weaver did the same tune with guitar (and, as my ears hear it, with some help from his pal Willie McTell and McTell’s wife Kate, who is said to have occasionally recorded under the wonderful name of Ruby Glaze).

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” shows up three times: In a 1949 duet by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer, a 1996 duet by Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell, and a 1966 organ workout by Jimmy Smith. There are three takes on Hank Williams’ “Cold, Cold Heart” – Williams’ own 1950 original, a 1951 cover by Dinah Washington and a 2002 cover by Norah Jones. Blind Willie Johnson’s eerie 1927 moan “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” finds itself echoed in Corey Harris’ 2003 cover. And Gordon Lightfoot’s 1971 track “10 Degrees And Getting Colder” was covered in 1993 by Nanci Griffith and 1996 by Tony Rice.

Some of the cold covered in those tunes – and the many others turned up in the search – is emotional instead of physical, of course. But that’s okay, and I think we’ll turn this morning to one of those tracks about the chill of the heart: Here’s Dr. John and “Cold Cold Cold” from his 1973 album In The Right Place, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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