The Rolling Stones

Winter

Composed by Keith Richards / Mick Jagger

Song Review by

Here they were in sunny Jamaica, and the Rolling Stones were writing and recording an entirely convincing and evocative picture of a Northern Hemisphere winter. Perhaps they were so happy to be escaping the season (sessions were held in Kingston over November and December of 1972) they felt that starting the sessions with "Winter" could transition them out of the old and into the new climate. Though it bemoans many of the negatives of the season with lyrics like "It sure been a cold, cold winter/my feet been draggin' 'cross the ground/And the fields has all been brown and fallow/and the springtime take a long way around," "Winter" seems to simultaneously celebrate the season as something inherently beautiful, with other evocations of holiday scenes and wanting to wrap a coat and keep a lover warm. Nevertheless, ultimately winter is described as something to get through together: "and I hope it's gonna be a long hot summer," the first of two references to classic films, the second coming with "I've been burning my bell, book, and candle." The gentle strums of a slightly overdriven, ringing guitar played by Mick Jagger opens the song, which is joined in short order by Mick Taylor augmenting with lyrical, country-like licks, Charlie Watt's ebullient drum and cymbal work, Nicky Hopkins' upper-register, tinkling piano, and epic string arrangements by Nicky Harrison. The reverb that shimmers over all of it adds to the seasonal feel of the ballad, and sets the tone for Jagger's lyrics and vocal performance. The song is an indigo mood piece from Goat's Head Soup, an underrated album filled with such atmosphere. As Earth, Wind & Fire's "September" so successfully captures the feeling of that month, "Winter" summons a wide range of the season's sensations and emotions: the light and darkness; the gloom and effervescence; and intimacy and expanse.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Goats Head Soup 1973 Polydor / Universal 5:29
LP Sleeve Box Set 2005 Toshiba EMI
The  Rolling Stones Box Set 2009 Promotone 5:29
blue highlight denotes editor's pick