By now you may have heard of the controversy over John Legend’s new version of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’. You may not know, however, that last year CBC and other radio stations in Canada as well as some U.S. stations actually banned the original song citing the uproar over its interpretation as a precursor to date rape. Just a few weeks ago, they lifted the ban.
Apparently Mr. Legend said he was just having some fun and wanted to make a more current version. Everybody has to have an opinion and there are quite a few that are offended that he’s taken a standard and changed it. Oh my! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlMP7FGYJmk
In the original by Frank Loesser, recorded by Dean Martin and many other artists, the woman deliberates if she should leave. The man is not only encouraging her to stay, but at times ignores her wishes: 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) But maybe just a half a drink more (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) I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
John Legend and Kelly Clarkson have recorded the new version by John Stephens and Natasha Rothwell. In it, while the woman is deliberating leaving, the man is supportive of her possible decision: My mom will start to worry (I’ll call the car and tell him to hurry) My daddy will be pacing the floor (wait, what are you still livin’ home for?) So, really, I’d better scurry (your driver, his name is Murray) But maybe just a half a drink more (oh, we’re both adults, so who’s keepin’ score) What will my friends think? (I think they should rejoice) If I have one more drink? (It’s your body and your choice) Ooh you really know how (your eyes are like starlight now) To cast a spell (one look at you and then I fell) I ought to say, “No, no, no, sir” (then you really ought to go, go, go)
I think we can all agree that what might have been acceptable in the past is not acceptable today. Back then women didn’t have the voice we do today. As art reflects life, many of the songs and movies from eras past portrayed women as subservient. Personally, I’m more concerned with how women characters where treated in older movies than I am with song lyrics. Does that mean we should ban those movies, cut scenes or remake them? No.
I applaud John Legend for bringing this song up to today’s standards. I hope the radio stations play the heck out of it. Now it’s a playful exchange reflecting banter between two adults depicting respect the man has for the woman’s interest and safety. Well done, John!