Home > Uncategorized > Baby It’s Cold Outside, or No Means No

Baby It’s Cold Outside, or No Means No

One drawback to working in a public space is being forced to listen to an endless supply of holiday music.  For the past month an a half I’ve been subject to many different versions of “Winter Wonderland,” “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Deck The Halls.”  Most of these songs cause me anything from mild amusement to mild annoyance after hearing it 100 times.  But there is one song that I find particularly disturbing.

Baby It’s Cold Outside” was written by Frank Loesser in 1944.  He sold the song to the film “Neptune’s Daughter, which earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Song.  It is a duet between a man (the wolf) and a woman (the mouse).  The gist of it is that the woman wants to go home because her family will be worried, but the man is trying to convince her to stay with him instead.

Here are the lyrics.  The male part is in parenthesis:

I really can’t stay (Baby, it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go ‘way (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The evening has been (Been hoping that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hand, they’re just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (Beautiful, what’s your hurry)
My father will be pacing the floor (Listen to that fireplace roar)
So really, I’d better scurry (Beautiful, please don’t hurry)
Well, maybe just a half a drink more (Put some records on while I pour)

The neighbours 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 oughtta say no, no, no sir (Mind if I move in closer)
At least I’m gonna say that I tried (And what’s the sense in hurting my pride)
I really can’t stay (Oh baby, don’t hold out)
Baby it’s cold outside

I simply must go (Baby it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (Baby, it’s cold outside)
The welcome has been (So lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)
My sister will be suspicious (Gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)
My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (Gosh your lips are delicious)
Well maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before)

I’ve got to get home (Baby, you’ll freeze out there)
Say, lend me a coat (It’s up to your knees out there)
You’ve really been grand (I thrill when you touch my hand)
Oh, but don’t you see (How can you do this thing to me?)
There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)
I really can’t stay (Get over that hold out)
Baby it’s cold outside

I guess they didn’t have the “No Means No” slogan in the 1940’s.

So she’s clearly saying no, she has to go home, but the guy is trying everything in his power to make her stay, including aggressive persuasion, guilt and getting her drunk.

A guy I work with called it “the date-rape song.”

What do you think?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 18, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    I was just thinking about this in the car today when it came on. Anyhow I think I have heard every version that exists and today I heard one by Carmen McRae and Sammy Davis Jr. and the way they sing it he is clearly begging her to stay (quite charmingly) and she is absolutely not going to stay but delighted and amused by his insistence. She has a lot of brio. The way they sing it sounds like a conversation between equals. Also not offensive to me the Dolly Parton/ Rod Stewart duet of the song. Just because it blows my mind. Read it again, Dolly Parton AND Rod Stewart… crazy!

    The Dean Martin version is kind of creepy, the Dinah Shore/Buddy Clark version falls somewhere in between.

    The line, “Say, what’s in this drink?” is probably creepier now than it was at the time, but still leaps out at me.

    As in many things, I think the intent is what matters, so some versions of the song seem very much like date rapes, while others seem like banter.

    • December 19, 2009 at 9:31 am

      You know, I never thought that different versions would lead to a different interpretation. I’ve never heard the Carmen McRae and Sammy Davis Jr. one, but the Dean Martin one is quite creepy.

      The lines that got me were “what’s in this drink,” and “the answer is no” from the woman. And it makes me uncomfortable to hear the male lines “And what’s the sense in hurting my pride” and “How can you do this thing to me?”

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