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Baby, you are missing the point of this song

December 2019

With the release of another cover version of the classic song, “Baby, it’s cold outside” back in October, this time by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson, for Legend’s latest album, “A Legendary Christmas,” the debate about the song is back in the fore-front.

Since 2009, this classic song, written in 1944 by Frank Loesser to sing with his wife, Lynn Garland, in a call and answer fashion, has faced some criticism for some of its lyrics, which in the era of #MeToo are being depicting as date-rapey behaviour, with the possible drugging of the female protagonist by her male suitor. This has resulting in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s streaming service and numerous radio stations across North America temporarily banning the song from their playlists.

Legend and Clarkson’s version of the song includes some re-worked lyrics designed “to be more consent-friendly,” like replacing the lyric, “I’ve got to get home (Baby you’ll freeze out there)” with “I’ve got to go away, (I can call you a ride)” and “My mother will start to worry (Beautiful what’s your hurry?)” with “My mom will start to worry, (I’ll call the car and tell him to hurry”).

Although Legend’s wife Chrissy Teigen addressed the issue of changing the lyrics by saying that the all original versions of the song still exist, some wonder why it was necessary to change them at all. Those calling the song “date-rapey” or inappropriate in the modern age seem to be missing the point of the song.

“Baby, it’s cold outside” is a whimsical ditty about the art of consensual seduction, but the looney-left has trashed it as a rape-culture anthem. The song really needs to be looked at in the context of the time in which it was written. Does it make a difference knowing that it’s a bit of an inside-joke on the strict moral standards of the 1940s?

The female protagonist is having a real good time with her male suitor and doesn’t want to leave. The lyric “At least I’m gonna say that I tried,” seems to imply that she’s already thinking of excuses if asked why she spent the night with this man. In an era when it was shameful for a woman to spend the night in the home of a man who wasn’t her husband (“The neighbors might think”), or even to seem to enjoy sexual behaviour, she is excusing her uncharacteristically bold behaviour (for the time) by saying, “Say what’s in this drink?”

The joke is that there might not be any alcohol in the drink, or very little, and she’s using it an excuse to stay with this guy, whom she really likes.

Another aspect of the song is that the woman’s voice is usually a strong one, making it clear that it is her decision to stay. “Well, maybe just a half a drink more” and “Well maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before) And I don’t even smoke.” She could probably leave if she really wanted to, but she’s using the excuse of having another drink, another cigarette, even though she doesn’t smoke, and the weather to stay a little longer; maybe all night.

So instead of worrying about this classic song, maybe we should all just relax and enjoy the holidays.

Merry Christmas.

Here are the original lyrics to the song:

I really can’t stay (Baby it’s cold outside)
I gotta go away (Baby it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you’d dropped in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (Beautiful what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (Listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I’d better scurry (Beautiful please don’t hurry)
Well maybe just a half a drink more (I’ll put some records on while I pour)The neighbors might think (Baby it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? (No cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell) (Why thank you)
I ought to say no, no, no sir (Mind if move in closer?)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?)
I really can’t stay (Baby don’t hold out)
Baby it’s cold outside.

Ah, you’re very pushy you know?
I like to think of it as opportunisticI simply must go (Baby it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (But baby it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (How lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Gosh your lips look delicious!)
My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (Gosh your lips are delicious!)
Well maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before) (And I don’t even smoke)

I’ve got to get home (Baby you’ll freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat? (It’s up to your knees out there!)
You’ve really been grand, (I feel when I touch your hand)
But don’t you see? (How can you do this thing to me?)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my life long sorrow!)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died!)
I really can’t stay (Get over that old out)
Baby it’s cold
Baby it’s cold outside
Okay fine, just another drink then
That took a lot of convincing!

Songwriter: Frank Loesser “Baby It’s Cold Outside” lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Sources: https://people.com/music/chrissy-teigen-jokes-about-john-legends-baby-its-cold-outside-remake-controversy, https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/john-legend-baby-its-cold-outside_n_5dd94e9de4b00149f71d8953?ri18n=true

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/baby-you-are-missing-the-point-of-this-song/

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