Music Playlist: Winter Warmers to Survive the Meanest Part of the Season
If you’re in northern climes, it is the meanest part of the winter. The holiday season is over, the credit card bills are coming in, it’s dark, and it’s either freezing or grey and wet.
For some this means time for raw veg and the gym, but sometimes it’s just as important to nurture yourself with pure comfort, indulge the urge to nest, turn the lights down and put on some sweet, sentimental tunes.
It’s easy to dismiss comforting music, and it often gets looked down.
“Easy listening” is often referred to with an air of distaste by those who measure their worth by their sophistication. Also, “coffee table music” and “dinner party music” have been used as put-downs for decades – as if there’s somehow something wrong with listening to music near a table!
Dolly Parton. Credit: Dennis Carney/Wikimedia Commons
The implication, of course, is that friendly, safe, domestic scenarios are not cool or challenging enough for the serious listener, that that the music suited to them is lightweight and unimportant. Which, of course, is a terrible thing to believe.
We all know that those intimate moments away from the information clutter and hustle, or doomscrolling of everyday life, contain some deep magic. And so can the soft, sweet songs we turn to when we’re at our most weary and battered by life.
Whether it’s because they’re instantly recognisable old favourites that trigger memories, or because there’s something specifically musical or lyrical that hits our emotional spots, or just because they help us unravel and get to our deeper selves, these comfort records can have some of the most potent effects of any artistic creation.
Which is why we’ve selected this very special four hours of music aimed specifically at those times of unwinding and nestling into your most comfortable seat.
Aaliyah. Credit: Mika-photography/Wikimedia Commons
Some of it is super familiar – indeed it contains many of the biggest names in musical history like Bee Gees and The Carpenters, Aaliyah and Dolly Parton – and some of it will be less so.
But all of it is chosen to radiate warmth.
There’s music from the 1960s to the present day, there’s soul, country, folk, pop, indie, reggae, electronica and R&B, but genre isn’t important here: emotion and pleasure are.
Some of it’s very sad, some of it’s blissful – quite a bit of it is both, but all of it is about loosening demands, easing pressure, getting to the place where you can just listen, and think, and enjoy in the moment.
Of course, the music is good enough that it will work just as well outside on a sunny morning as tucked away on a dark rainy night. But, it is road tested and we can give a guarantee that it really comes into its own in the evening, dark outside, wrapped up warm, with a hot drink or glass of wine, and your feet put well and truly up.
Go on, give it a go, it’ll do you good…
Cover: Chin Zien/Sound of Life
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Writer | Joe Muggs
Joe Muggs is a writer, DJ and curator of many years standing, covering both mainstream and underground. His book 'Bass, Mids, Tops', covering decades of UK bass music, is out now via Strange Attractor / MIT Press, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/joemuggs.