A Hazy Shade of Winter

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"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon & Garfunkel US vinyl.png
Side-A label of the US vinyl single
Single by Simon & Garfunkel
from the album Bookends
B-side"For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her"
ReleasedOctober 22, 1966
RecordedSeptember 7, 1966
Columbia Studio A
(New York City)
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Johnston
Simon & Garfunkel singles chronology
"The Dangling Conversation"
"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
"At the Zoo"

"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 subsequently included on the duo's fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). It peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

In 1987, the Bangles recorded a cover version for the Less Than Zero soundtrack, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2019, Gerard Way and Ray Toro recorded a cover version for the Netflix Original series The Umbrella Academy.


Simon & Garfunkel in 1966

The duo recorded "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]


"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structure.[3] The song dates back to Simon's days in England in 1965; it follows a hopeless poet, with "manuscripts of unpublished rhyme", unsure of his achievements in life.[3]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.

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


Billboard described the song as a "winning number" and a "change of tempo for the duo [which] could make this their biggest to date."[7] Cash Box said that it is a "strong session bound for biggiesburg."[8] 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 (1966–67) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[9] 11
New Zealand (Listener)[10] 14
US Billboard Hot 100 [11] 13
US Cash Box Top 100[12] 17
Chart (1991) Peak
UK Singles Chart[13] 30

The Bangles version[edit]

"Hazy Shade of Winter"
Bangles hazy shade of winter.jpg
Single by The Bangles
from the album Less Than Zero
ReleasedNovember 1987
Length2:46 (radio edit)
4:59 (12" version)
LabelDef Jam Recordings
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Rick Rubin
The Bangles singles chronology
"Hazy Shade of Winter"
"In Your Room"
Music video
"Hazy Shade of Winter"
"Hazy Shade of Winter" (audio)
on YouTube
Audio 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", which they had been performing live since at least as far back as March 1983.[14]

Their cover, retitled "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 David Kahne, the producer of their album Different Light (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 "If we hadn't been so messed up as a band, it could have been a turning point for us."[15]

Lead vocals were performed jointly by all four members of the group, with a short solo led by Susanna Hoffs towards the end. This was a rare occurrence in The Bangles songs, as they mostly had just one member singing lead. 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 acoustic 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 number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind Tiffany's "Could've Been", and also number 11 in the UK. It was also a hit around Europe.

The music video (the first for future country music video director Jim Shea) showed the group singing in a studio surrounded by television screens on the walls, similar to a scene from the film Less Than Zero, from which other scenes appear throughout the video.

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

The song appears during season 1, episode 2 of the Netflix series Stranger Things, episode 9 of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and season 6, episode 9 of the Netflix series Lucifer.

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts
Chart (1987–88) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 37
Chart (1988) Peak
UK Singles Chart[16] 11
Ireland Singles Chart 8
New Zealand Singles Chart 14
Canadian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 12
Australia (Kent Music Report)[17] 7
German Singles Chart 52

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
United States (Billboard)[18][19] 35

Gerard Way version[edit]

"Hazy Shade of Winter"
Gerard Way - Hazy Shade of Winter.jpg
Single by Gerard Way featuring Ray Toro
ReleasedJanuary 24, 2019 (2019-01-24)
Songwriter(s)Paul Simon
Producer(s)Doug McKean
Gerard Way singles chronology
"Hazy Shade of Winter"
Ray Toro singles chronology
"Hope for the World"
"Hazy Shade of Winter"
"Hazy Shade of Winter" on YouTube

Gerard Way released a version of "Hazy Shade of Winter" in January 2019 for the Netflix series The Umbrella Academy. The track is based on The Bangles' cover,[20] and features fellow My Chemical Romance member Ray Toro on guitar and bass, and Jarrod Alexander on drums.[21]


Credits adapted from Tidal.[22]


Chart (2019) Peak
Scotland (OCC)[23] 76


  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 December 4, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. A Hazy Shade of Winter at AllMusic. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  6. ^ Fornatale 2007, p. 102.
  7. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. October 29, 1966. p. 16. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. October 29, 1966. p. 40. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  9. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. December 11, 1966. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  10. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 10 March 1967
  11. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  12. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, December 17, 1967". Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 26, 2019.
  13. ^ "Simon And Garfunkel". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  14. ^ Alfonso, Barry (June 1983). "Put Up or Shut Up Category: No Bobbles by These Bangles". Record. 2 (8): 12.
  15. ^ "The Bangles: VH1 Behind The Music - Part 3". YouTube. April 7, 2010. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
  16. ^ "UK Official Charts: Bangles". Official Charts Company. 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 26. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between 1983 and 19 June 1988.
  18. ^ "1988 The Year in Music & Video: Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 100 (52): Y-20. December 24, 1988.
  19. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1988". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  20. ^ "Gerard Way Talks 'The Umbrella Academy' Netflix Series & Why the World is Ready For Superheroes With Demons". Billboard. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  21. ^ "Gerard Way on Instagram: "This is surreal and exciting and just wild. Getting to cover Hazy Shade of Winter for this with Ray Toro and Jarrod Alexander was so much…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on December 24, 2021. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hazy Shade of Winter (feat. Ray Toro) / Gerard Way". Tidal. January 24, 2019. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  23. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 2, 2019.


External links[edit]