The Best Version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

After a great many years of listening to about every version of it we could find, my wife Cat and I agree that this is the best recorded take of Frank Loesser’s wonderful Christmas-season standard, “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” It features New Orleans horn player (and—surprise!—terrific singer) Al Hirt and ever-charming Ann Margaret. The only place we’ve ever seen this cut on CD is on  Hip Holidays, a compilation disc issued by Pottery Barn.

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John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Anonymous

    That is to my taste as well.

  • RedLefty

    I’m partial to Zooey Deschanel (yep, the actress) in her performance with Leon Redbone.

    • Anonymous

      Red: I personally don’t much care for that version. I love Deschanel’s singing of the song in the movie itself (“Elf”), but not for the version she does with Redbone during the movies end credits. To me, Redbone doesn’t feel engaged. The two just … don’t seem to be connecting. And it’s kind of weird, to me, too, because she sounds so young, and he sounds so kind of … old and pervy. But I know this version is popular–this year it seems to be everywhere—so clearly it has for others more appeal than it does for me.

      • RedLefty

        Now that you mention it, I do think I like the movie version better as well.

        I had no idea this version was everywhere!

        • Anonymous

          Yeah, I’ve been hearing it in malls and hotel lobbies and department stores, and … like that. You know how every year there are a couple of new ones sort of … positioned to become “standards.” The ZD/LR “Baby …Outside” is definitely one for this year.

      • Anonymous

        Leon Redbone always sang a bit like Droopy the Dog talked. But what’s the deal with Al Hirt? He be black on that album cover. And I know they didn’t have tanning beds back in the 1960′s.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/ThG81SF4spbmKMpcwOwlqnQZeANLoA--#8f3e3 rpyron

    This version (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001C74F8S/) gives me goosebumps. Two champion barbershop quartets (Panache and Nightlife) singing in counterpoint. Well worth 99 cents.

  • kenleonard

    My favorite version would be one in which the woman punches the guy and says, “I said ‘No’, you cretin! Do you even know what a nice guy is?”

    I mean …

    “What’s the sense in hurting my pride?”

    “How can you do this thing to me?”

    To be honest, I hate that song with a fiery passion. Somehow a song about pressuring a girl to stay later than she wants, clearly with somewhat less-than-honorable intentions, just grates on me endlessly.

    • Anonymous

      Wow! I’ve never heard that before. But … yeah. The whole song only works if the idea behind its expression is that it’s obvious the woman does, in fact, very much want to stay.

      • kenleonard

        Yes, there is that … I mean, pretty clearly that’s what we’re supposed to be dealing with, but I think the guy’s playing too hard.

        Those two lines really get to me.

        That’s my weird hang up, and I admit it.

        Don’t get me started on “Santa Baby,” though …

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Ken that I have always found that song creepy in general, but nothing is weirder than the version with Norah Jones and Willie Nelson. He doesn’t exactly have the “smooth operator” voice that the song requires, and it comes off sounding quite silly!

    • Anonymous

      That IS one of the worst versions. He sounds like someone’s tired, stoned old uncle. He’s totally just dialing it in. When she’s being all into it. Not good.

  • Drew

    Here’s a new version from Glee:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTnwv2NN-DI

    • Lore

      Love it! Kurt plays his part perfectly – flirting, teasing, challenging his partner to give him a reason to stay.

  • Kay

    I like James Taylor’s version. I wish he had done the duet with someone other than Natalie Cole, but I still like it the best.

  • bee

    I’m a fan of Lady Antebellum’s version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3H6YE-40xg

  • Diana A.

    My favorite–Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton. Big on the funny.

  • David

    Zooey Deschanel and Leon Redbone from the movie Elf is my pick for best version of Baby It;s Cold Outside.


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