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5 Blues Songs That Feel Your Midwinter Chill

Cover art to Muddy Waters' <em>Folk Singer</em> LP.
Chess Records
Cover art to Muddy Waters' Folk Singer LP.

In the Northern Hemisphere, January is typically the coldest month of the year. If we can somehow drag ourselves through the month, things will begin to turn around and we'll be on the road to springtime. But January often feels as if it'll never end.

So as we slog through the cold rain and snow, awaiting January's demise, here are five blues songs to help get us through the winter.

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5 Blues Songs That Feel Your Midwinter Chill

Blind Willie McTell

"Cold Winter Day"

From 'Statesboro Blues: The Early Years 1927-1935'

Although "Statesboro Blues" is Blind Willie McTell's most famous song — it's been covered by many artists, including Taj Mahal and The Allman Brothers — he wasn't a one-song wonder. McTell was very prolific during the '20s and '30s, writing and recording some of the best blues numbers of that era. "Cold Winter Day" is just one the many great songs in his extensive discography.

Sonny Boy Williamson

"Nine Below Zero"

From 'Essential Sonny Boy Williamson [MCA/Chess]'

Blues harmonica virtuoso and singer Sonny Boy Williamson liked this song so much, he recorded it twice, once in 1951 and again in '61. This is the later version, which features one of the best back-up bands a bluesman could want: Otis Spann (piano), Luther Tucker (guitar), Willie Dixon (bass) and Fred Below (drums). For some reason, "nine below zero" became a favorite temperature for musicians. You'll hear that temperature addressed in another song in this list, and it also pops up in Bob Dylan's "Outlaw Blues" from 1965.

Muddy Waters

"Cold Weather Blues"

From 'Folk Singer'

"Cold Weather Blues" might be the most evocative winter-weather blues in this list. It comes from Muddy Waters' 1964 LP Folk Singer. But don't let the album's title fool you: This all-acoustic session contains some of the deepest, darkest, most intimate music Waters ever recorded. Headphones and closed eyes (or a darkened room) are highly recommended for maximum enjoyment. An added pleasure in this song: the presence of a very young Buddy Guy, playing acoustic guitar behind Waters.

Cash Box Kings

"St. Paul Wintertime Blues"

From 'I-94 Blues'

The Chicago Blues Guide describes the Cash Box Kings as "a cohesive band endeavor that effortlessly captures the sound of bygone days without getting stuck in a retro straitjacket." As you'll hear, the group doesn't like getting stuck in a St. Paul winter, either.

Paul Reddick & The Sidemen


From 'Rattlebag'

In this song, Canadian bluesman Paul Reddick gives us a slightly lighter take on winter weather. Slightly. His words are somewhat enigmatic, but it sounds as if his nighttime walk in the winter woods starts to get a bit strange after a while. You be the judge.

Nick Morrison