Months of the Year in Song: November Nights (with a Nip in the Air)

Well, I had my doubts about this series but with all the great suggestions I got last month this post will practically write itself. As it’s the last day of the month however (also St Andrew’s Day here in Scotland) I’m going to have to be quick or I’ll miss my window of opportunity.

Yet again, as with September and October, the month of November is named after a Latin number, this time nine, or novem, all because the Roman calendar used to have 10 months with a gap for an “unorganised winter”. As we head into next year things will get a bit more interesting, promise.

Another picture by Veli Bariskan, who kindly let me use the banner image above

So far in this series we’ve had Sad September and Orange October. I had hoped there would be an obvious alliterative word to tag on to November, but all I can think of at the moment is Nights. Back in September there was a bit of debate about whether that month was really the tail end of summer rather than the start of autumn. At this point in November, as it’s very cold and dark much of the time, it feels more like winter than autumn. The clocks change back to GMT at the end of October and from then on it starts to get dark at around tea-time (if like me you live in the North of Scotland). If you’re busy at work for much of the day, any social activity will probably be done at night-time, and it will probably be very dark indeed. Great for Bonfire Night on the 5th of November (link here to a previous post) but also for other outdoor extravaganzas where darkness is required. We headed along to Brodie Castle the other week where the castle and grounds were illuminated with all sorts of relevant images and colours. Really pretty indeed and a nice warming hot chocolate to enjoy at the end.

Spot the wee windows on the castle (famous for its daffodils in Spring). We were also blessed with a full moon and a starry, starry night.


But this is supposed to be a music blog, so where are the songs?

Last month the first suggestion came in from Charity Chic, Mr. November by The National, although he did add a warning that it contains ‘sweary words’. If you’re likely to be offended, cover your ears. I was struggling to work out what the song is about, but here is a possible explanation. ‘He was a high school quarterback. November is playoff season for football. He was carried in the arms of cheerleaders. He was a hero. This character has peaked way too early. He’s had his big accomplishment already, so now he sleeps late.’ Makes sense.

The next suggestion came from C of Sun Dried Sparrows, Late November by Pavlov’s Dog. Here are her own words:

‘It comes from around 1975, I think. Sort of uncategorisable. David Surkamp’s vocals are… erm… not easy to describe in a complimentary way, you wouldn’t think they could work, and yet, and yet! – there is something incredibly charming about this – I just can’t put my finger on why. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea and I wouldn’t have thought it could ever be mine. But in this case, it is. Maybe it’s the song as a whole that just gets in there.’

Crikey, I see what you mean about those vocals C, but you are right, it does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

Next up we had a suggestion from Graeme, who remembered that Mike Oldfield had a song called Man in the Rain where the month of November is heavily featured in the chorus. Coming from the Orkney Islands Graeme is probably often a man who finds himself caught in the rain. Let’s have a listen.


Very nice indeed. The vocals on that one were apparently performed by Irish folk singer Cara Dillon.

Rol as ever was not found wanting when it came to suggestions, but one of them also overlapped with a second suggestion from C, so I’ll include it first. Here is what she said about it:

‘Another (different) Late November that comes to mind is the hauntingly beautiful, melancholy song by Sandy Denny. (There are a few versions floating around, some quite stripped back with just piano and vocals but the one I like most has more instrumentation on it.)’

Let’s hope I’ve found the one you were thinking of C.


But back to Rol, here is what he said about this next song, November Rain, the one I would probably have picked myself if thinking of one relating to this month.

‘November begins and ends with Guns n Roses for me. It was my late nephew’s favourite song too, and they played it at his funeral, so much as I enjoy Axl’s histrionics, it always comes with bittersweet memories.’

Hope you don’t mind that I shared your words Rol, and understandable that it would be a tough listen for you nowadays. From the era of the really big budget music video. They don’t make ’em like that any more.

November Rain by Guns N’ Roses:


For the record, Rol’s other suggestions were as follows:

Carter USM – Born On The 5th of November
Tom Waits – November
Harry Chapin – November Rains
Morrissey – November Spawned A Monster
Stornoway – November Song
The Waterboys – November Tale

Quite a range of styles there but an all-male line-up. Maybe we should shoehorn in some Julie London to redress the balance a bit. Here we have her singing November Twilight from her Calendar Girl album (always a good source of material for this series).


Last but definitely not least we have a suggestion from Khayem, who came up with this:

‘I was surprised to find I’ve relatively few ‘November’ songs in my collection. However, I will give a nod to November by Echo & The Bunnymen. The song was a B-side (if it can be classed as such) to their 2009 digital single I Think I Need It Too. I’m not going to pretend that this is anything close to imperial phase E&TB, but I love the opening bassline and musically, it’s far jauntier than I’d expect a song with that title to be.’


To be honest I hadn’t even realised that Echo & The Bunnymen are still active as a band as I don’t think I’ve listened to them since their ‘imperial phase’ as Khayem calls it. A nice reminder of how they used to sound back then, and still do today.

So, that’s your lot for this month, something for everyone I suspect. I’ve been shocked at how quickly winter has come upon us this year and despite all my good intentions about not turning up the thermostat, I have indeed succumbed, so it’s feeling pretty cosy at WIAA Towers with the curtains shut tight of an evening. If you do venture out, as well as fireworks and lightshows, you might have spotted a pretty spectacular crescent moon this week. Some of the planets have also been visible in the night sky.

Next month is December – how the heck did it come round so quickly, but then I say that every year. There will be plenty of song choices for that month I’m sure but feel free to add your tuppence worth to the comments boxes. Always grateful for any of your suggestions.

Until next time…

November Rain Lyrics
(Song by Axl Rose)

When I look into your eyes
I can see a love restrained
But, darlin’, when I hold you
Don’t you know I feel the same? Yeah

‘Cause nothing lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

We’ve been through this such a long, long time
Just tryna kill the pain, ooh yeah
But lovers always come and lovers always go
And no one’s really sure who’s lettin’ go today, walkin’ away
If we could take the time to lay it on the line
I could rest my head, just knowin’ that you were mine, all mine

So, if you want to love me
Then, darlin’, don’t refrain
Or I’ll just end up walkin’
In the cold November rain

Do you need some time on your own?
Do you need some time all alone?
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

I know it’s hard to keep an open heart
When even friends seem out to harm you
But if you could heal a broken heart
Wouldn’t time be out to charm you, whoa-whoa

Sometimes, I need some time on my own
Sometimes, I need some time all alone
Ooh, everybody needs some time on their own
Ooh, don’t you know you need some time all alone?

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain, ooh yeah
I know that you can love me
When there’s no one left to blame

So, never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one
Don’t ya think that you need somebody?
Don’t ya think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody

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 written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

25 thoughts on “Months of the Year in Song: November Nights (with a Nip in the Air)”

  1. Great selections here, Alyson, though I have to say I don’t have much time for Axl Rose :-). My faves are Sandy Denny and that song from The National which I know from one of those comp CDs you get with Uncut magazine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked (most of) them! The great thing about having been a blogger for a while is that you have people who jump in with suggestions for a themed series. Feel free to offer up a December suggestion Rick?

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  2. Ernie here. I’ve tried commenting before but for some reason they never get through the system. I’m going to keep plugging away until I work out what I’ve been doing wrong.

    A good selection as always. Great to have Sandy Denny there, any version of that is lovely. ‘November Rain’ brings back memories of being forced to play air guitar to the solo in a heavy metal club in Moldova (it’s a long story).

    For this month, how about “If we make it through December” by Merle Haggard?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ernie – Thanks for persevering. It seems the WordPress people are really good at filtering out the very unsavoury comments, but every so often a bona fide comment from a new visitor ends up in the spam folder as well. Also, if you ever add a link it has to go through an approval channel (as I’ve just had to do with Khayem’s comment below). Hopefully all good now though, and I have just found your last comment about the first UK Singles Chart which is now showing up.

      The great thing about a series like this for me is that I get a chance to listen to and share the kind of songs that might never have put in an appearance around here – mixes things up a bit. As for your air guitar performance, sounds like quite a story that will need recounting at some point!

      Thanks for the Merle suggestion. So far the December suggestions are not all bright and shiny, which is a good thing, or it could all get a bit schmaltzy.

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      1. Glad to have got through. I didn’t fill in the line asking for a website this time, that seemed to do the trick.

        I’ll give you a brief version of the story. About 15 years ago a friend and I were in Chisinau and one evening while looking for something to do we wandered into a club that was having a rock night. We attracted a bit of interest – they probably didn’t get many tourists – and when they discovered we were from the UK a couple of lads came over.

        One of them spoke quite good English and told us that his friend had an important question he had always wanted to ask someone from England. Would we be happy to answer it? Of course, I said yes and turned to the other one. He was jumping up and down with excitement by this point and blurted out “Do you like Whitesnake?”.

        I’m agnostic but obviously didn’t want to let him down so said yes, at which he gave me a hug and shouted “I love English rock and roll” several times. After a few more beers he asked the DJ to put “November Rain” on, took me by the arm and led me onto the dancefloor so we could seal our friendship by doing air guitar to Slash’s solo together. It was a very moving moment.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great selections, Alyson, this is a really enjoyable series and I hope you complete the ‘full year’.

    Unsurprisingly, lots and lots of December songs out there, so I’m just going to stick with one, although it’s been re-recorded and covered several times over. It’s DecemberSunlight (no spacing) by The The.

    The original version appeared on the 2000 album NakedSelf.

    It was then re-recorded as a duet with Liz Horsman for the 2002 compilation 45rpm.

    Liz Horsman also recorded it as a solo cover, which appeared on The The’s 2017 Radio Cinéola: Trilogy box set

    Anna Domino (who supplied vocals to The The’s Sweet Bird Of Truth in 1986) also recorded a cover version, planned for an aborted The The single release in 2000, which finally saw the light of day in 2020. I included it in one of my Dubhed Selections last December.
    https://dubhed.blogspot.com/2021/12/now-these-winter-skies-turn-blue-and.html

    Last but not least, enigmatic and downright strange artist Uutske Buutske and Ergo Phizmiz did a couple of The The covers in 2003, including this DecemberSunlight featuring vocals from the wonderfully named Martha Moopette. I can’t find it on YouTube or elsewhere on t’internet so I’ll aim to work it into an upcoming mix.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by again Khayem – I think these series that are time sensitive, like my Full Moon in Song one, are more likely to succeed than some of the others where you really have to be in the mood. I have high hopes and I think some of next year’s months will be a bit more interesting in terms of how they got their name.

      Thanks also for the suggestion – the second time you have offered up something by The The and we’re only three months in. I am intrigued by what else they might have on offer. Four versions so I’ll have to decide which one gets the featured slot at the end of December – will listen to them all and pick my favourite.

      Just looked at your December post from last year. I am still in awe at how you can publish daily and create such a long playlist to boot. I think I used to be like you in my first couple of years of blogging but I have become more of a weekly/fortnightly blogger now. Every now and again I get all enthusiastic about it again however and become a bit more prolific. All to do with the lovely people we come across I think, and who leave such great feedback.

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    1. I must admit that I enjoyed the dramatics and visuals of that video clip. Slash – what a look. Not many of us could get away with hair and headgear like his. But he was all about the guitar playing, and he certainly did not disappoint on November Rain. It seems that he was not a fan of these ballads though and having three in a row did not sit well with him – a great showcase for his solos though.

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    2. I wrote a post a while back about Mr WIAA’s cousins who back in the late 80s/early 90s had a hard rock band very much in the style of Guns N’ Roses. They were signed to an American label for a while but sadly never made the big time. Watching the clip also reminded me of the ones they made and of their very big hair! The lovely thing is that they have now ‘got the band back together again’. The long hair is no more as they are all now bald as coots but just goes to show, once a rocker, always a rocker. Long may they continue.

      Suits of Armour, Kiss of the Gypsy and “Whatever It Takes”

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  4. I promise to keep it brief this time. I can’t believe no one’s suggested Kate or Frankie Valli yet, but I’m sure they will. And Ernie’s Merle Haggard suggestion is top. So all I have to add is…

    Count Basie & The Mills Brothers – December

    (With a special mention for The Decemberists.)

    Careful, Alyson, when you start taking requests like this, the posts take on a life of their own!

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    1. Frankie Valli is mine, all mine… . Been featured before but a favourite so will include it again.

      I remember suggesting the Mills Brothers song for a Jez series (hope he’s ok) a while back, as I have it in my library.

      You are right, these kind of posts can get lengthy and take on a life of their own but they also kind of write themselves which is handy.

      Thanks for being restrained.

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  5. So many November songs (and thanks for including PD and Sandy), I have a feeling December will be similar. The first one to spring to mind for me is ‘My<Dsmbr' by Linkin' Park featuring Kelli Ali – I know, you'd have thought they could have spelt it correctly, will it be disqualified on the grounds of having no vowels? I'm no Linkin' Park fan usually but I like Kelli Ali for her time with Sneaker Pimps and creator of some great solo material and there's just something about this song that seems to fit the mood of the month.
    Great to see Mr WIAA's cousins and their luscious locks It's an absolute classic 'hair metal' band video, isn't it?!
    Glad to hear you're managing to keep snug and warm up there! Even down here it's getting a bit grim and we have sleet forecast for next week, so we're being stingy with the heating for now while we can bear it – with no idea how big our next energy bill will be yet it just all feels rather ominous. I'm wearing so many layers now I look like the Michelin Man.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The great thing about this series for me is that I get a chance to hear songs I might not otherwise have come across – thanks for this new suggestion. My December post will definitely not be full of the ‘usual suspects’.

      We saw one of the cousins recently and it was great to hear their band was back together again. They went off and had (semi) regular jobs for a long while but nice at this stage in life to play together again. The look is different but the sound the same.

      I had held off on the heating for a long time but towards the end of November it hit zero degrees and you get that awful condensation that can cause damp if you don’t keep the house warm. I have those crystals everywhere now to absorb excess moisture and decided it was worth investing in heating so as not to have the house deteriorate in any way. What a choice for some people though. Each house now has its Gatekeeper when it comes to the thermostat and woe betide anyone who turns it up without permission. Life in 2022 – couldn’t make it up.

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  6. November Rain (as interpreted by French & Saunders):

    December songs?
    No mention yet of Kate Bush – December Will Be Magic Again
    (now rectified)

    Also worthy of note:
    Counting Crows – A Long December
    Weezer – December
    Merle Haggard – If We Make It Through December

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – Thanks RD, I’d forgotten about that one. They were so good at these spoofs back in the day and if you let it run it follows on with a spoof of a Mamas & Papas clip I’ve shared around here a couple of times too. Dawn French as Slash, just brilliant.

      Thanks also for the suggestions, as he’s already been mentioned above, Merle will definitely be putting in an appearance next time.

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  7. Some fine selections here Alyson. Any excuse to play a Sandy Denny song is good with me and Pavlov’s Dog…blimey! I’d quite forgotten about that, ahem, unique vocal style.
    This is that time of year that I both drive into and home from work in the dark, only glimpsing daylight from the back of the store! Still, at least I do glimpse the sun these days. I’ve worked within shopping centres a couple of times in my life, when the only time I ever actually saw natural daylight in Winter was on a day off!
    At home I’m only heating and living in two rooms, with all other doors closed, plus everything in the flat is switched off when I leave for work, except the fridge & freezer – I even pull the plug on the broadband. Hopefully these frugal measures will pay off when the next energy bill comes around.
    My suggestion for the next instalment in this series is Fred Neil’s cover of December’s Dream, a song that unfathomably remained unreleased in his lifetime. Fred’s voice can reduce me to a blubbering wreck at the best of times, but here he just about finishes me off. The original version of the song by John Braheny is also excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It suddenly has become that time of year hasn’t it and when I worked in offices and ate my lunch at my desk I rarely saw daylight either. Now I really try to get out for a walk during the day. You do get some lovely sunrises at the moment though if you catch it right.

      Because we are all so conscious of the big bills coming round the corner these changes we are making will hopefully mitigate some of the increase. When I was a student in cold Aberdeen we froze all winter as we were terrified of the heating bills. Didn’t think 40 years on it would be an issue again – life in 2022, who would have thought.

      Thanks for this other suggestion. As you will probably have guessed it is a new one on me but as I said elsewhere that’s what I love about series where you ask for suggestions. I discover new songs that would never normally appear around here.

      Like

  8. Hiya Alyson,

    A little late to the party here for November. One of my favorite scenes from the movie High Fidelity is when they decide to do Top 5 Songs about Death and the quick guy, Dick, names “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot. While it doesn’t have November in the title, the name of the month features throughout the lyrics.
    “…skies of November turn gloomy…”,
    “…gales of November came early…”,
    “…Twas the witch of November come stealin’…”,
    “…When the gales of November came slashin’…”,
    “…with the gales of November remembered…”, &
    “…when the gales of November come early…”.

    Happy holidays (and Hogmanay!) to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bill P – Thanks for the suggestion. Too late for inclusion in the post but I can include it hear. Had forgotten the reference to it in the film so added that too. The song certainly makes many, many references to the month of November and I enjoyed it although obviously a sad song.

      Yes, Merry Christmas to you too and hope you have a Hogmanay celebration over there!

      Like

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