A Hazy Shade of Winter

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"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bookends
B-side "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her"
Released October 22, 1966
Format 7" single
Recorded September 7, 1966
Columbia Studio A
(New York City)
Genre Folk rock
Length 2:15
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Producer(s) Bob Johnston
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"The Dangling Conversation"
(1966)
"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
(1966)
"At the Zoo"
(1967)

"A Hazy Shade of Winter" is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, released on October 22, 1966, initially as a stand-alone single, but was subsequently included on the duo's fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

In 1987, The Bangles recorded a cover version of the song for the Less Than Zero soundtrack; that version peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background[edit]

The duo cut "A Hazy Shade of Winter" during the sessions for Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966), but the song was not included on an album until 1968's Bookends.[2]

Composition[edit]

"A Hazy Shade of Winter" follows a more rock-tinged sound, with a fairly straightforward verse-refrain structure.[3] The song dates back to Simon's days in England in 1965. The song follows a hopeless poet, with "manuscripts of unpublished rhyme", unsure of his achievements in life.[3]

The lyrics recall the transition from fall to winter, as suggested by the repetition of the final chorus of the song:

I look around,
leaves are brown
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Look around,
leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground.
[4]

Author and disc jockey Pete Fornatale considered the lyrics evocative of, and standing in contrast with, those of John Phillips' "California Dreamin'".[5][6]

Reception[edit]

Decades later, Allmusic critic Richie Unterberger described the song as "one of [Simon and Garfunkel's] best songs, and certainly one of the toughest and more rock-oriented".[5]

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[7] 30
US Billboard Hot 100 13

The Bangles version[edit]

"Hazy Shade of Winter"
Single by The Bangles
from the album Less Than Zero
Released November 1987
Format 7" single
12" maxi, CD single
Genre Rock
Length 2:46
Label Def Jam Recordings
Writer(s) Paul Simon
Producer(s) Rick Rubin
The Bangles singles chronology
"Following"
(1987)
"Hazy Shade Of Winter"
(1987)
"In Your Room"
(1988)
Music sample

In 1987, The Bangles were approached to record a song for the soundtrack of the film Less Than Zero. They chose to record a cover of "A Hazy Shade of Winter," a song they had been performing since their early days as a band.

Their cover, simply titled "Hazy Shade of Winter," was a harder-edged rock song that removed most of the bridge section. The record, like the rest of the soundtrack album, was produced by Rick Rubin. After a fruitful but disappointing experience with the producer of their Different Light album, David Kahne, where they were given little input in the production of the songs, the group decided to take more control for the recording of this song, and they were given an additional producer credit. Michael Steele later commented that "we sounded the most on this record the way we actually sound live", and that "If we hadn't been so messed up as a band, it could have been a turning point for us"[8]

Lead vocals were performed jointly by all four members of the group, with a short solo led by Susanna Hoffs towards the end of the song. This was a rare occurrence in the Bangles songs, as they mostly had just one member singing lead on their songs. Due to pressure from their record label, The Bangles removed the verse from the original song that contained the line "drinking my vodka and lime." According to liner notes on the Soundtrack album, Steve Bartek from the band Oingo Boingo played guitar on the track.

When released as a single in November 1987, "Hazy Shade of Winter" became a huge hit, surpassing the popularity of the original version, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, only behind "Could've Been" by Tiffany, and also #11 in the UK. It was also a hit around Europe.

The music video for the song featured the band singing in a studio surrounded by television screens on the walls, similar to a scene of the Less Than Zero film. Scenes of the film also appear throughout the video.

"Hazy Shade of Winter" was not included on any of the band's studio albums, but was later included on the band's first official Greatest Hits in 1990, and on many of the band's subsequent compilations. The accompanying Greatest Hits video compilation did not feature the "Hazy Shade of Winter" video, due to complications with the licensing of the movie rights of the Less Than Zero scenes that appear on the video clip.

The Bangles version was commonly used as bumper music for late night radio talk show Coast to Coast AM hosted by Art Bell in the mid to late 1990s.

The Bangles version chart history[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1987–1988) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 37
Chart (1988) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 11
Ireland Singles Chart 8
New Zealand Singles Chart 14
Canadian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 12
Australia ARIA Singles Chart 7
German Singles Chart 52

Other cover versions[edit]

UK punk-pop band Cranial Screwtop recorded a version of the song for their 2006 album Too Fast for Technology.

American psych-rock band Jimmy and the Soulblazers covered this song on their 1972 album Clockwork.

Punk band Snuff included a cover of the song on their EP Flibbidydibbidydob in 1990.

German thrash metal band Sodom did a cover of the song for their 1997 album 'Til Death Do Us Unite. However, they credited the song as a cover of the Bangles.

Australian pop punk band Bodyjar produced a popular version of the song in 1999.

Les Fradkin has a version on his 2006 album Jangleholic.

It was also covered by the darkwave band She Wants Revenge in 2007.

Singer-songwriter Susan Werner included a version of the song on her album Classics, which was released in early 2009.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bookends - Simon & Garfunkel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 57.
  3. ^ a b Bennighof 2007, p. 40.
  4. ^ Paul Simon. "A Hazy Shade of Winter". paulsimon.com. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  5. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. A Hazy Shade of Winter at AllMusic. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  6. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 102.
  7. ^ "Simon And Garfunkel". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  8. ^ "The Bangles: VH1 Behind The Music - Part 3". YouTube. April 7, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]