Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Freezing" / Nick Lowe


Like Harold Pinter plays, Nick Lowe songs are sometimes all about the silences. It's amazing to think that the same guy who wrote frenetic songs like "Heart of the City" and "I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll" could have crafted such a jazzy, laid-back, copasetic thing as "Freezing."

You'll find it on Dig My Mood, a 1998 album that genre-hops even more than Jesus of Cool -- and shows Nick a master of every one of 'em. This track is something Mel Torme could have written, a wintertime classic from the first line -- "It's freezing / Freezing / Wind chill is twenty below / Whole town is under snow" -- with pianist Geraint Watkins layering on delicious frosty glissandos, and the lightest crash of icy cymbals. Nick draws out "freezing," making it fill a whole line, and lets long pauses fall between the lines, full of wonder at the winter cold, as if he's shaking a snow globe. There's plenty of room to shiver here.

"Mercury's falling, it just won't quit / What are you doing out in it?" Nick wonders, hesitates for a moment, and then gently beckons, "Come inside love / Into the warm." As seductions go, it's effortless, but dig the tender curl of that last melodic phrase, the slight groan of contentment in his voice -- that's what I'd call an irresistible invitation. "It's freezing," he reminds us again, tenderly chiding: "Inside's where you should be / Don't try to argue with me." Well, erm -- who's arguing?

We slide next into a sultry sax solo, the next best thing to a fire crackling in the fireplace, and just as I'm snuggling in and getting comfy, Nick returns, tucking a hearth rug in place: "Inside's where you should be / Don't try to disagree / Come in and set me free from this yearning." And that one word, that "yearning" is all we need to kick the whole thing onto a metaphorical plane. In this cold cold world, the only shelter worth seeking is love -- not stressful, anxiety-ridden longing, but this perfect restful haven Nick Lowe's offering, drowsy with desire.

Nick's not out in the cold himself, mind you -- he's like a cat curled on the hearth, stretching lazily. Talk about efficient love songs. It's a shame, really, that Nat King Cole wasn't around to do a cover of this; that would've been delicious indeed. But if Nick's door is open, I'm happy to duck inside, any time of year.

Freezing sample

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