Imbolc, Love Unlimited and It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring)

Well, all winter I’ve been trying to work out how to fit this song into the blog as although there are loads (and loads) of Christmassy songs, there aren’t that many about winter per se. But today seems to be the day as it’s the 1st of February and on nature’s “wheel of the year”, it is Imbolc. Ever since last year’s autumnal equinox, or Mabon as it is also called on the pagan calendar, I have been taking a key interest in these landmark dates, creating a little display, and hopefully finding an appropriate song to post that day.

imbolc

Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar as for them, the success of the new farming season was of great importance. As winter stores of food were getting low, rituals were performed to ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later. As darling daughter pointed out last September however, we don’t really have to perform such rituals nowadays as we go to the supermarket where you can acquire raspberries in December and Brussels sprouts in June, but I would like to at least acknowledge the old ways before we get just too out of touch with nature in our busy 21st century lives.

So today is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter, and make way for Spring. The featured song may not really be about the world of nature but I have always loved Barry White and his Love Unlimited Orchestra and so far in the blog, no Barry. As it turns out still no Barry, but this song was written by him and then released in the UK in 1975 by the group Love Unlimited who provided backing vocals for him on his albums and concert tours but who then went on to find success in their own right. (Takes around a full minute to get going, but bear with it.)

It May Be Winter Outside by Love Unlimited:

The symbol of Imbolc is the snowdrop but having had a good recce of the area at the weekend, so far no snowdrops. In the garden today however I was pleasantly surprised to see a little clump popping through in the rockery but just a bit too early for us here in the North of Scotland it seems. I looked back at my folder of pictures taken in 2010 when I manfully tried to take a shot of the natural world every day for a year – Back then this snowdrop shot was taken on the 11th of February so in about 10 days they will no doubt be plentiful.

92-11th-feb-first-snowdrops-of-the-year
The first snowdrops of the year

Coincidentally last weekend I wrote about Johnny Cash and how his deep bass baritone voice was something you don’t often hear in music nowadays. Of course another person who had a very deep bass baritone voice was aforementioned, three-time Grammy Award winner Barry White, also known for his romantic image (but I’ll not mention his nickname here as not very becoming). Barry’s music was of a soul/funk/disco/R&B persuasion and his greatest success came in the ’70s both as a solo singer and with his Love Unlimited Orchestra. Looking at his discography, he was barely out of the UK Singles Chart between 1973 and 1979, his biggest hit being You’re The First, The Last, My Everything.

I am constantly amazed when blogging how everything suddenly comes together by the end of the post and when I started to write about today’s special date in the Celtic calendar I didn’t think I would end up with Barry White, but the symbolism around Imbolc is all of the colour white – snowdrops, ewe’s milk (oi-melc) and St Bride – so very apt in an odd kind of way. Perhaps my subconscious was being cleverer than I was.

Just the Way You Are by Barry White:

I will finish with Barry’s version of the Billy Joel song Just the Way You Are. Again there is a bit of a preamble so bear with it but if anyone knows of a performer with a deeper voice, I’d like to know who? Poor Barry died in 2003 after a few years of health problems but again he has left a massive body of work, much of which is in my music library and I have sadly not been brave enough to admit to that yet. Perhaps appropriate then, on this the first day of Spring (in certain calendars), to come clean – As for me I’m off to light my white candle set amidst the little pot of white crocuses I had to buy as a substitute for snowdrops, and listen to a bit more Barry White!

It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring) Lyrics
(Song by Barry White/Paul Politi)

When the temperature dips
I miss my baby’s arms
His tender finger tips
Knows just how to keep me warm

It may be zero degrees
With the snow falling down
But I’ve got warm and tender love
Just as long as he’s around

It may be winter outside
But in my heart it’s spring
How much joy and pleasure, baby
Can one guy bring me

Winter nights can be awful cold
Without someone to hold
But when I have him next to me
Baby, I’m in ecstasy

Throughout my life
I’ve had my share of guys
But he’s been the only one
Who can make my temperature rise

Things are just not the same
When he’s not by my side
But yet, I shouldn’t complain
But be waiting with my arms open wide

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was recorded for the film of the same name and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might finally work out the answer to his question, "What's it all about?"

12 thoughts on “Imbolc, Love Unlimited and It May Be Winter Outside (But in My Heart It’s Spring)”

  1. At the risk of being labelled a know-it-all, I do know someone in popular music with a voice deeper than Barry White’s. I was channel surfing the other night and discovered a BBC4 show titled “Secret Voices of Hollywood” – a documentary about “ghost singers” who were professional singers who dubbed the singing parts officially credited, or billed, to another person, usually the stars of a musicals or films. Sometimes, the film stars didn’t even know their vocals had been dubbed til they saw the film premiere. Anyways, one of these ghost singers was Thurl Ravenscroft whose vocal was used in the film of the musical “South Pacific” as the character Stewpot. His incredibly low voice can be heard on the song “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”. You can find out more about that documentary here:

    http://www.theartsdesk.com/tv/secret-voices-hollywood-bbc-four

    And there are snowdrops in my garden (located in Aberdeen) too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, not being a know-it-all and good to get the feedback. I love these BBC4 shows about music but end up staying up far too late at the weekend watching them. Of course we all know that Kathy Seldon had to ghost for Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain but obviously was quite widespread. Just found out that little Oliver wasn’t doing the singing though which is a big disappointment. As for Thurl it seems he is a basso profundo which is a new term for me – Considering Paul Robeson was just a bass that really is deep.

      Good to hear you have snowdrops coming through – in Aberdeen – my old stomping ground! I see now why you perhaps like dropping by here as I have a fair few ABZ (and its environs) stories included in the various pages. More to come and been building up to writing about all those great concerts that used to take place in the Capitol Theatre on Union Street – soon.

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  2. Lovely info about Imbolc – never knew that, thanks!

    As you know I do love a deep voice! Oh I wish there were more around now. However can I proffer a few other examples from the past – how about Lee Marvin? (Is it just me or did it seem that ‘I Was Born Under A Wanderin Star’ was on Top Of The Pops every week for months when it was a hit? It felt like that to me anyway!) Also the wonderful Lee Hazlewood…. oh that voice… mmmm. Must be something about the name Lee?!! Although, not called Lee, but equally blessed with fantastic rich vocal depth: Isaac Hayes and Ritchie Havens? Mmm, can you tell I’m into this….? 🙂

    No snowdrops here yet as far as I can tell but the shoots of bluebells rising up, always a welcome sight.

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    1. What are we like! I must admit to really liking those deep voices too and am thinking it must be something in the female DNA from when it was important for cavewomen to pair up with a manly man who could fight off wild animals etc. and be a good hunter!

      Yes, Paint Your Wagon was one of the first films I went to see at the cinema and you are right Lee Marvin was on TOTP for weeks as it made the No. 1 spot – he spoke it rather than sang it though like Telly Savalas with If. And as for Mr Isaac Hayes – Shaft, right on…. – yes really liked his voice too. The comment from Lynchie above mentions Thurl Ravenscroft (very deep) and reminded me of Paul Robeson too. Barry had competition indeed!

      Funnily enough I just watched the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood clip on your blog the other night and had forgotten all about him but very good indeed – didn’t realise they’d done so much together.

      In another 10 days there will be lots of snowdrops I’m sure – definitely feeling the first signs of spring already and lit my candle last night in thanks!

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  3. I’m sure it’s down to different calendars, but I thought Spring didn’t start till March 20th (the day always sticks in my mind because it’s the day after my birthday, so I always consider myself an end of Winter baby rather than a start of Spring one).

    Anyway, as I keep trying to tell you, there’s no shame to be had in your music collection, and Barry White produced some marvellous records in his time… though being a huge Billy Joel fan, I always feel his original beats Barry (Billy disagrees with me on this though!).

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    1. Yes lots of different calendars but March the 20th is the Vernal Equinox when the number of hours of light equals those of night so a great one to celebrate. Meteorologically the start of Spring is the 1st March but back in Celtic times the calendar was split into 4 quarters and 4 cross quarters (you can tell I’m really getting into all this stuff) and each one marked a turning point in nature’s/farming’s calendar. Not as important as I say for us in the 21st century but if it does all go horridly wrong I’ll have to dig up the garden and grow my own, so should really know about it all!

      Oh lovely Barry – Yes I’m annoyed I chose that one now as so closely associated with Billy Joel but really emphasised his deep, deep voice. Loads of others with deep voices however I had forgotten about as mentioned in the comments above.

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  4. A positively Reithian post Alyson, entertaining, informing and educational. I’m not sure if you and C are aware, but big Bazza and Isaac Hayes released a duet in 1991 entitled ‘Dark and Lovely’ – can you cope with all that deepness in one song?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not!! I do try to inform and entertain but don’t want to be too Reithian about it although if I do watch telly I do gravitate toward the BBC. Just checked out that duet – Hmm… Sometimes less is more and this is a case in point. I like Barry….and I like Isaac…., but maybe not both at the same time! Thanks for pointing it out though.

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      1. It was absolutely meant as a compliment Alyson. I learned all about Imbolc and Mabon, while thoroughly enjoying your writing and the tunes on offer. (I just checked with Mrs S – we haven’t seen any snowdrops yet either).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s ok I wasn’t offended and always aim to inform and entertain so job done. I think that in another week there will be lots of snowdrop but still just a bit too early. Love this time of year when nature rears its head again and everything starts to come back to life – “The sap is rising” as we speak/type.

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