I know, I know. What I am about to write, or rather share with you all, will paint me into a corner. Some will tend to take my side, others will conclude I’m an insensitive, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal of the first order.
It’s a tough life kids, but someone’s got to live it and it might as well be me. So, here it goes . . .
I like the old Dean Martin/Marilyn Maxwell version of “Baby, it’s cold outside,” and further, I am not a fan of the new version (released this holiday season) as written by John Legend (performed as a duet between Legend and Kelly Clarkson). Let me say up front, I have nothing against John Legend and he’s probably a swell human being, I just think the new version is the continuation of the wimpification of America in this new hashtag everybody’s offended by something all the time era.
There I said it. Let the Hate Mail commence! I can see it now, Don Rush Likes The Rapey Song Therefore He Must Hate Women and Like Rape Culture. Stone Him!
So, let’s do a comparison between Martin/Maxwell and the Legend/Clarkson versions. I will put the new lyrics in italics, following the old. And, of course we all know, the woman leads with the man interjecting.
I really can’t stay (But, baby it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go away (But, baby it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (beautifully, what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (Listen to the fireplace roar)
So, really I’d better scurry (Beautiful, please don’t hurry)
But maybe just a half drink more (Put some records on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (Baby, it’s bad out there)
Say, what’s in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, “No, no, no, sir.” (Mind if I move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (what’s the sense in hurtin’ my pride?)
And, the new version . . .
I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to to away (But, I can call you a ride)
This evening has been (I’m so glad that you dropped in)
So very nice (time spent with you is paradise)
My mom will start to worry (Ill call the car and tell him to hurry)
My daddy will be pacing the floor (wait, what are you still livin’ home for?)
So, really I’d better scurry (Your driver, his name is Murray)
But maybe just a half a drink more (h, we’re both adults, so who’s keeping score?)
What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice)
If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice)
Ooh, you really know how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To cast a spell (one look at you and then I fell)
I ought to say, “No, non, no, sir” (then you really ought to go, go, go)
At least I;m gonna say that I tried (Well, Murray, he just pulled up outside)
I really can’t stay (I understand, Baby)
Well, I guess in today’s world, that old version does sound a little rapey, even if the new version is wimpy.
I went online to see when the song was written and Martin released his version. Holy cow, did I learn a lot — if you can trust Wikipedia as a source. The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser. It became so popular that in 1949 there were eight different recordings of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Dean Martin’s version, with a “female chorus” was released in 1959. Check this out. Since 1951 the song has been re-recorded over 60 times, including the Legend version and another by artists Scott Mathew and Sia (whoever they are) this year. And, get a load of some of the folks who have recorded this song: Ester Williams, Pearl Bailey, Diana Shore, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Fisher, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Charles, Ann Margret, Lou Rawls, Vanessa Williams, Tom Jones, Lee Ann Womack, Rod Stewart, Dolly Parton and even Willie Nelson.
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According to Wikipedia, in 2018 some radio stations pulled the Dean Martin version to appease contemporary sensibilities, until listeners complained. They added the song back onto their play lists. Following that controversy, for the week of Dec. 22, 2018, the Martin version rose to the top 10 of Billboard’s Digital sales — showing a 70 percent increase in downloads.
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