Last December, I couldn’t get away from the outrage.
Every time I signed onto social media, I saw posts, memes, and threads hundreds of comments long devoted to arguing about a song.
Many people feel that the classic holiday duet “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is “rapey,” coercive, offensive, and inappropriate, while others think it’s nothing more than a cute, bantering flirtation. Some see it as a harmless hold-over from a past era where manners, customs, and morals were viewed quite differently. But I had to ask myself, was this worth so much vitriol?
To me, the answer was a clearly defined no, and the debate went against the whole spirit of the holiday season.
This isn’t a time to argue. We’re supposed to be setting differences aside and coming together joyfully. Holiday music should be fun and lighthearted, not triggering.
One thing I couldn’t help noticing amid all the fuss, though, was that everyone was only interested in promoting their side of the argument. I see this a lot in the world. When we approach a problem, even if the problem is as simple as song lyrics from the 1940s, most people focus their side of the debate on outlining and detailing why something is a problem. They do this without offering solutions or alternatives, so the debates rage on and on, never getting anywhere or fixing anything.
Arguing this way often creates more problems, but I have the antidote to the holiday season outrage. I’ve got our solution.
I found the perfect holiday song that we can all love, without feeling triggered or offended.
How about this year, instead of arguing about “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” we drink some hot (fair trade, vegan) chocolate and dance together to a different classic:
Everyone who liked the snazzy tune of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” but couldn’t get with the old-timey, possibly creepy lyrics, will love “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” It shares a similar musical vibe, it’s (in my opinion) a better song, and there’s absolutely nothing offensive or triggering about the lyrics.
This is a song for everyone—the most inclusive holiday carol of all time. It never mentions a specific holiday, so it works for whatever’s being celebrated: Hanukah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, or Christmas. It was written by Irving Berlin, after all, and he was Jewish.
Even better than that? It’s 100 percent gender neutral. Anyone can sing it about anyone or anything, because it never specifies who the “love” refers to. Make it about a romantic partner, a child, a best friend, or golden retriever if you want. The “love” in the title could also be interpreted to mean the love we have in our hearts, a love for humanity, or self-love. Any kind of love works here.
And the message really resonates with the spirit of the holidays. Life is tough. It’s cold outside, metaphorically and often literally, but if we’ve got love we can “weather the storm.”
Since the song was written in 1937, and debuted in the movie “On the Avenue,” it has been recorded countless times by many artists. There’s a version for everyone. Some may enjoy the Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra interpretations. Others might go for Ingrid Michaelson’s folky charm. There’s even a fun, dance remix from 2003 that works great at a party. Billie Holiday also recorded a beautiful version, but my favorite is Ella Fitzgerald’s take. Her voice and style were incomparable, and I love the joy that comes through when she sings the lyrics.
Music is one of the best, happiest parts of how our society celebrates the holiday season. This is a time of year to let go and have a great time, and fantastic music helps us do that. The holidays wouldn’t be the same without all the singing and dancing, but it’s important to choose music that reflects the best of humanity and inspires us to unite, not to argue—especially not with strangers on the Internet.
So have a wonderful holiday season filled with song and good cheer, and when making your holiday playlist, be sure to include your favorite version of “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.”