Playlist: All Fired Up

Songs to warm your heart beside the hearth


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When the snow flies and the wind starts whistling, a roaring fireplace provides comfort against inclement weather — and it supplies an element of romance to boot. Add some tunes inspired by fire and warmth, and winter suddenly becomes a lot more bearable.

“The Warmth of the Sun,” The Beach Boys //

The circumstances were far from sunny when Brian Wilson and Mike Love penned this gentle number — they wrote it as an emotional response after the assassination of President Kennedy. Though it’s a sad song, with quite possibly the loveliest harmonies of any Beach Boys number, it’s also reassuring: The love of my life/She left me one day/I cried when she said/I don’t feel the same way/Still I have the warmth of the sun.

“I Burn for You,” Sting //

A young man then known as Gordon Sumner wrote this song back in the ’70s when he was with the band Last Exit, but its appearance in the film Brimstone and Treacle popularized it. There’s something curiously hypnotic in the guitar line, and the lyrics border on the erotic, fired by Sting’s breathy delivery. It’s a song born more of obsession than devotion, but there’s no denying its ardent pull. Though an ocean soothes my head/I burn for you. Also included on the CD Sting at the Movies.

“How About You?” Michael Feinstein //

This enduring Burton Lane tune from Babes on Broadway includes the lines I love a fireside when a storm is due/I like potato chips, moonlight and motor trips/How about you? On The Burton Lane Songbook, Volume I, pianist and singer Michael Feinstein does justice to one of the greatest feel-good songs in the pop literature, complete with his extended lively piano introduction.

“Heat Wave,” Ella Fitzgerald //

Composer-lyricist Irving Berlin had a reputation for being wholesome, but his lyrics from the 1933 show As Thousands Cheer are downright naughty: She started a heat wave/By letting her seat wave. Introduced by Ethel Waters, it was later performed in the movies by Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe, but Ella Fitzgerald’s version tops them all.

“Light My Fire,” The Doors //

Forget the truncated single version; the longer album rendition from the group’s debut LP is much more attractive, featuring superlative instrumental playing from keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore. When vocalist Jim Morrison screams “Try to set the night on f—i—r—e!” the mercury zooms through the stratosphere.

“Winter Was Warm,” Victoria Clark //

The score from the 1962 animated TV special Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol was written to appeal to children. Still, Jule Styne wasn’t one to write sophomoric music — even for kids. “Winter Was Warm” is sung by Belle, young Ebenezer Scrooge’s sweetheart. As Scrooge gets more avaricious and cold-hearted, she thinks back on the warm, tender glow of a winter love that’s now sadly melting. The winter was warm/Without a sign of frost/Like winter lost its way that year.

“Fireside Song,” Genesis //

The tune is more like a lambent candle than a blazing fire. When the album From Genesis to Revelation was recorded in 1968, Genesis’ members were still teenagers. But musically, it was no juvenile effort. The gentle “Fireside Song” shows a maturity beyond their years, and the sweet guitar strumming and strings (bordering on syrupy Mantovani, though) is a sudden departure from the grave piano chords at the beginning of the song.


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