A Hazy Shade of Winter

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"A Hazy Shade of Winter"
Simon&Garfunkel Hazy single.jpg
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 2:17
Label Columbia
Writer(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 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.


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. The song follows a hopeless poet, with "manuscripts of unpublished rhyme", unsure of his achievements in life.[3]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.

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


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
UK Singles Chart[7] 30
US Billboard Hot 100 13

The Bangles version[edit]

"Hazy Shade of Winter"
Bangles hazy shade of winter.jpg
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
"Hazy Shade of Winter"
"In Your Room"
Audio sample
"A Hazy Shade Of Winter"

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 live since at least as far back as March 1983.[8]

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."[9]

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 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 #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, behind Tiffany's "Could've Been", and also #11 in the UK. It was also a hit around Europe.

The music video for the song showed 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 later appeared 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 include 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.

Chart history[edit]

Weekly charts
Chart (1987–1988) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 37
Chart (1988) Peak
UK Singles Chart[10] 11
Ireland Singles Chart 8
New Zealand Singles Chart 14
Canadian Singles Chart 3
Dutch Singles Chart 12
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 7
German Singles Chart 52

Other cover versions[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 December 18, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  8. ^ Alfonso, Barry (June 1983). "Put Up or Shut Up Category: No Bobbles by These Bangles". Record. 2 (8): 12. 
  9. ^ "The Bangles: VH1 Behind The Music - Part 3". YouTube. April 7, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  10. ^ "UK Official Charts: Bangles". Official Charts Company. 2016. Retrieved 16 December 2016. 
  11. ^ 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.


External links[edit]