With Storm Barney battering the UK around the ears this week, it got us thinking – what are the best songs which have been inspired by the breeze’s angry cousin?
We grabbed our riff anemometer and found out…
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE – The Wind Cries Mary (1967)
According to Sheila Whiteley in Reading Pop: Approaches To Textual Analysis In Popular Music, “The Wind Cries Mary encodes the effect of marijuana through the gentleness and inner-directedness of its style.” Certainly, their third single was laden with hazily enigmatic profundity: “Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past? And with this crutch, its old age and wisdom it whispers, ‘No, this will be the last.””
FOTHERINGAY Winter Winds (1971)
Sandy Denny was at the peak of her beguiling powers when she left Fairport Convention to make the Fotheringay debut. Her voice was always one of England’s timeless finest, but she was able to expand her songwriting prowess with elemental gems like the beautifully pure and pensive Winter Winds, which – give or take a dash of hippie dream mysticism – manages to sound a thousand years older than it is.
WIND – Springwind (1971)
Formed in late 60s Nuremberg, Wind loved wind so much they called themselves Wind – as they wanted to blow away all obstacles to worldwide success. Alas they didn’t, but their Seasons debut is an overlooked scorcher fusing early manifestations of heavy metal and progressive rock. Don’t be fooled by the mellow title or ponderous piano intro, Springwind is riven with crunchy chords, possessed vocals, stabbing organ and ripping leads. Not much like a spring wind at all.
KANSAS – Dust In The Wind (1978)
Guitarist Kenny Livgren’s simple fingerpicking exercise landed the pomp quintet their biggest hit, this dark acoustic meditation on death blaring out of every car deck in late 70s USA. The single went Gold in 1978; the download went Platinum in 2013. Most excellently, when Bill and Ted visited Athens in the fifth century BC, they used the song’s haunting chorus to make a philosophical connection with Socrates. It blew his mind.
BATHORY – The Wind Of Mayhem (1985)
The Wind Of Mayhem is Quorthon’s archetypal windswept metalhead lyric: “Stand on the cliff’s edge alone in the night/My hair is blowing freely in the Wind”. The lone headbanger contemplates the elements during a coastal storm, and senses the Devil at work: “It squall it screams/Satanas is present but yet he is unseen.” You can hear him though; the relentless tempo and tortured solo eerily approximate the sensation of being buffeted by demonic gusts.
DARKTHRONE – Where Cold Winds Blow (1991)
Fenriz doesn’t get enough credit for the luridly atmospheric black metalness of such (eccentrically typeset) lyrics as “I Entered the Soul of the Snake and Slept with the Armageddish Whore/(but) without my Throne and my Weapons; Where Cold Winds Blow became my Grave.” The exact location isn’t specified, but it’s “the Domain of Hate” where “For Lust for Hell – We Rode with the North Wind”, so our bet’s on Hull.
MANOWAR – Master Of The Wind (1992)
You’re spoilt for choice with Manowar songs about wind. You could go for Swords In The Wind – although that’s more about swords than wind – or Black Wind, Fire And Steel, although ideally wind shouldn’t have to share billing. So we’ll choose this grandiloquent orchestral ballad with audacious strains of Andrew Lloyd Webber, a sentimental self-empowerment anthem that uses meteorological phenomena to teach us that we are all masters of our own personal gusts.
TYPE O NEGATIVE – Summer Breeze (1993)
The slinky Isley Brothers version – and the Seals & Crofts soft-harmony original – remind us that winds don’t have to be cold and hard and violent, they can be warm and gentle and smell of food cooking. New York City’s self-styled Drab Four heaped on lashings of bitter irony with this gloomy reinvention, teasing out the heavy Sabbath doom riffs that no one else had noticed were there.
DEAD CAN DANCE – The Wind That Shakes The Barley (1993)
The original 19th Century Irish ballad was a song of resistance against British rule, in which the perennial barley-shaking of the wind echoes Ireland’s eternal struggle against the encroaching foemen. The otherworldly, unaccompanied voice of Lisa Gerrard (the Australian daughter of Irish immigrant parents) gives the lyric whole new resonances: “It was meant to be a rallying song, but it has such an intense sadness that it becomes an anti-war song,” she said in 1993.
WHILE HEAVEN WEPT – Voice In The Wind (2003)
Opening with sounds of wind and sea, this marble slab of elegiac doom is a comparatively snappy example of the epic Virginians’ craft. A grieving lover hears his departed partner’s voice in the wind – is she dead, or has she just given him the elbow? Is the voice in his head, is she communicating in spirit form, or is she upwind of him and talking to someone else?
Storm Barney is out now. For more information, click here.