musical;heathers

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December 9th 1968 - Merle Haggard records “Silver Wings” at the Capitol Recording Studios in Los Angeles

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“We wrote the lyrics in, like, 45 minutes,” Lydia Liza told Andrea Swensson this week when she and Josiah Lemanski visited our studios to sing their new version of the holiday standard “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The two never guessed that their recording would become a viral hit, resonating with listeners around the world who disliked the creepy vibe of the original.

The two, Minneapolis singer-songwriters who have been collaborating on music and are also dating, revised the song’s lyrics on a whim — replacing the male partner’s sexually aggressive lines with respectful and amusing expressions of support. “I was like, ‘You know what song’s awful?‘” remembered Lemanski. “She was like, ‘Dude, yes!’ We got out a notepad right there.”

They quickly recorded their version in Lydia Liza’s home studio — taking only “like 20 minutes,” said Liza — and posted it on SoundCloud to share for their friends’ amusement.

The witty and sensitive rewrite, though, was a hit well beyond their friend circle. “It got picked up by The Current, which sparked everything else,” said Lemanski. “Then it went to TIME.”

“I was waiting for that,” remembered Liza, referring to the TIME article, “and I saw that CNN had messaged me on Facebook. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!'” The track ultimately amassed more than 400,000 plays on SoundCloud, with coverage in dozens of media outlets around the world.

Now, the two have recorded a professional studio version that’s coming out within the next few days on nonprofit Minneapolis label Rock the Cause Records — a label known for releases including Zach Sobiech’s “Clouds” and the recent Gazing with Tranquility tribute to Donovan. A portion of proceeds from the new version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” will go to the Sexual Violence Center and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

“I look at the song and laugh, because it’s funny,” said Liza, “but I’m also just so grateful I was able to do something” to help raise awareness about the importance of consent in sexual relationships.

Lemanski added that “for both of us, this is one of the topics that we’ve felt really strongly about for a long time. We got lucky that this is the message that we get to get out there.”

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Playing with my biggest fan!

On Sunday, Bob Dylan will be given the Nobel Prize in Literature. The award sparked some questions about whether Dylan’s contributions have been more literary or musical (or both). This is nothing new. When Princeton University gave Dylan an honorary Doctorate of Music in 1970 (seen above at Commencement), questions arose about whether Dylan was really a musician. Music professor Arthur Mendel complained about the choice of honorary degrees, urging Princeton instead to honor Dylan’s literary talent. His music “is simply the vehicle of his words. … It has been proved over and over again that no music—not Bob Dylan’s, and not Beethoven’s—in itself expresses such concepts.”