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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 365
Wed, Jan 16, 2013

“In the Cold, Cold Night”
The White Stripes

2003

“♫ You
make me feel
a little older/
like a full-
grown woman
might/ […] come
to me again
in the cold,
cold
night
♫”

Say what you will about bluesy rock fire of The White Stripes but when Jack White strips his riffs down to quiet, haunted melodies is when his true vintage genius comes to life. Not just a madman on his axe, Jack White has lyrical substance to his traditional bluesy style. Our calander year ends today, on this last day of Don’t Forget the Songs 365, Mach Dos, we honor one of Jack’s most underrated Elephant gems by leaving you with a little shivering melody, from here in freezing So Cal, with Meg White crooning “In the Cold, Cold Night.”

Jack explained the genesis of “In The Cold, Cold Night” when he said, “I wrote that specifically for Meg. I wanted it [to] be half Mazzy Star and half Peggy Lee. I played it for her in my attic. Meg laughed, she liked it. That organ sound was from me lying down on the studio floor pressing the organ pedals. If you listen close you hear wood popping on the piano pedal. Toe Rag’s scary to a lot of people. They don’t want to be confined. But the limitations make you work.”

“Cold Night” is perfect for Meg to sing because of her voice echoes hints of innocence tinged with ripples of melancholia. Meg talked about singing “Cold Night” when she said, “I’ve been singing more live, doing backups and we do that one Loretta Lynn cover. So, when we went in to record the album, Jack had actually written a song for me, He was like ‘It’s kinda like Peggy Lee Fever-esque.’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding? You think I can sing that?’ I like it, I guess.”

Someone else who was a fan of Jack White’s personal 21st Century homage to Peggy Lee “Fever,” “In the Cold, Cold Night,” is Everything But The Girl’s Tracey Thorn who covered The White Stripes ditty on her X-Mas album Tinsel and Lights. Thorn discussed why she added a White Stripes song to her holiday themes album when she explained, “I started out making a list that had all the traditional Christmas songs on, and so I thought I’d stretch it a bit and start listing songs that mention winter, or snow, or even songs that just talk about it being cold! Then it was about making the record varied. The White Stripes song, In The Cold, Cold Night, was for musical variety more than anything, it barely qualifies by mentioning it being cold. I thought it would add a different counterpoint to some of the more melancholic songs, and add a different atmosphere to it.”

Whether you prefer Meg White’s post modern Peggy Lee-seasoned original or Tracey Thorn’s tender European backbeat flavored cover song; this Jack White penned beauty is the perfect song to cuddle up to with your headphones, by the fireplace or heater and drift away to the sounds of “In The Cold, Cold Night.”

Everything but the Girl’s Tracey Thorn 2012 cover of Jack & Meg White’s “In The Cold, Cold Night:”

Editors Note: Thank you for all my readers, followers for another incredible 365 song entries. Thanks to You! Thank You for reading! We made it another year. But I owe my biggest debt of gratitude to my wife and our wonderfully dynamic extended family, near and far. And thank you, most of all, to the songs that bring me back here day after day, I will never forget you.

I may only have a day to reflect but it’s time to go back and dream it up all over again! See you again, mañana!

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