Baby It's Cold Outside

Since we have solved all the world's other problems, it's time for the great “Baby It's Cold Outside” debate of 2018.

My wife, Ash, and I have been raising our eyebrows at each other about this song for years. So, it's strange to us that people are just now deciding it could be taken as creepy.

Late last month, Cleveland radio station WDOK-FM removed the song from rotation after a listener complaint.

Dec. 4, CBC Radio joined two other Canadian broadcasters, Rogers Media and Bell Media, in pulling the song.

The lyrics are a call and response duet between a man (the “Wolf”) and a woman (the “Mouse”) in which he repeatedly asks her to stay, while she gently rebuffs his advances.

I have a different take: “Baby, It's Cold Outside” is not a Christmas song.

People have just decided “Baby, It's Cold Outside” is a Christmas song. But, the lyrics themselves make no mention of the holiday or anything associated with it. The only signifier is that it's cold, a condition which could also reasonably describe the Northern Hemisphere any time between roughly October and March.

Though it was first written by Frank Loesser in 1944, it debuted in the film Neptune's Daughter, released June 9, 1949—about as far away in the calendar as you can get from Christmas.

If you're going to say “Baby, It's Cold Outside” is a Christmas song, then explain why “December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” by The Four Seasons isn't one. It has more claim to the title as the lyrics place it directly in the Christmas season.

But, back to the issue at hand: Both sides of the “Baby, It's Cold Outside” debate are simultaneously wrong and right.

People who are too upset about the lyrics need to realize it was written long before #MeToo. The often-cited line, “Hey, what's in this drink?” was apparently a stock joke of the time in which someone would blame their behavior on their beverage—the gag being that it actually contained no intoxicants. And, the implication of the larger conversation is that she wants to stay, but she's worried about how it's going to be perceived by others.

People who are too upset about it being taken off the radio need to get a grip, as well. I don't think you're actually mad at it being removed. You're upset because you feel it is yet another example of a culture obsessed with political correctness reconsidering even supposedly mundane parts of our shared pasts. If you need a list of real problems to get your dander up about, I'm happy to provide one.

You can still listen to “Baby, It's Cold Outside” on a loop if you want to. No one is going to come to your door to seize your recordings.

I'll tell you one song that's celebrating its 50th anniversary this month which is hardly ever played on the radio enough for my taste: "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter. But, since I can queue it up in my headphones any time I want, (I'm doing it now) you don't generally hear me complaining about its absence.

And, that's definitely a Christmas song.

 

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