Nov 162009

Shuffle Sundays is a weekly feature in which we feature a cover chosen at random by my iTunes shuffle. The songs will usually be good, occasionally be bad, always be interesting. All downloads will only be available for one week, so get them while you can. After you listen, discuss this week’s tune in the comments.

It’s official: iTunes hates me.

Let me explain.

As you can see above, Shuffle Sundays is a weekly feature where I let iTunes’ shuffle feature pick a random cover from my library of 10,000+. When two of the first four posts contained Christian rock covers (I really don’t have that many) I went along with it. When iTunes chose a Christmas song in late October, I figured the Pogues are good for every season. But this choice tempted me to redo the selection entirely.

“Hanover Winter Song” is a traditional tune from my alma mater, Dartmouth College. When it popped up I groaned, thinking that any reader who didn’t go there would have no interest this song. Sung by a Dartmouth a cappella group, no less. Yeesh.

Still, I decided bending my self-imposed rules of true randomness defeated the whole purpose. And when I listened to the song a few times, I realized it was more appropriate than I’d thought. Though the tune takes Hanover, NH as its inspiration, there’s otherwise nothing Dartmouth-specific about it. It could just as easily be “Boston Winter Song,” “Saskatoon Winter Song,” or a song about anywhere else people know their way around an ice pick.

Plus it’s got a great old-timey melody. Written in 1898, by Class of 1885 members Richard Hovey (words) and Frederic Field Bullard (music), commissioned by one Edwin Osgood Grover for the first edition of a Dartmouth Lyrics songbook. Four years earlier the poet Hovey had penned “Men of Dartmouth,” later to become the school’s alma mater (changed slightly upon co-education), so he was a good bet for a wintry ode. Hovey roped in composer friend Bullard into writing the melody and since then just about every Dartmouth a cappella or glee club singer has become very familiar with the tune.

This version comes from the school’s oldest a cappella group, the Dartmouth Aires. Founded in 1944 as the Injunaires (a fact they wisely try to keep under wraps), they’ve already won “Best All-Male Collegiate Album” from the Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award twice this decade. Here they are with the “Hanover [or other cold area] Winter Song.”

Dartmouth Aires – Hanover Winter Song (Hovey/Bullard) [Buy]

What do you think? Discuss this song in the comments section below.

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  One Response to “Shuffle Sundays: Hanover Winter Song”

Comments (1)
  1. Thanks for posting this background on the tune. You’re right that the “Hanover Winter Song” is institution-agnostic; in fact, it’s widely sung by the Virginia Glee Club under the title “Winter Song.”

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