Did you know you know that record labels used to release special commentary tracks to play along with 45s, much like the ones available on your modern DVDs? It’s true! This holiday season, Scratchbomb has transcribed some Yuletide examples of this bygone format and presents them to you now for your reading pleasure. Today, the commentary track for “Let It Snow.”
SAMMY CAHN, LYRICIST: One year right around the holidays, I felt like getting away by myself for a while. So I rented a cabin up in the Catskills, far away from everything, the nearest town 12 miles down the road. I planned to relax, commune with nature, and reflect.
A few days into my trip, the area got hit by an historic storm, almost three feet of snow overnight. The drifts piled against the front door and all the windows, to the point where all sunlight was blotted out. With temperatures hovering near zero, there was no chance of the stuff melting any time soon. I was, for all intents and purposes, trapped.
I had enough food to last me for a few weeks, but with no natural light coming in and no hope of leaving, I began to receive these strange visions. They were simple, primitive, like cave drawings. I felt like they came from some deep, primal part of my brain that I’d never been able to tap into before.
After five days, the visions grew more persistent, and terrifying. I decided I had to get out somehow, or else risk losing my sanity. I found an old rusty garden trowel and managed to slowly dig a tunnel through the snow piled against one of the windows. I emerged to find a world enveloped in whiteness, devoid of any signs of humanity, as if all traces of us had been erased.
Finally free, and not knowing when I’d be able to get home, I took off for the forest to gather up some firewood and see if I could find any other people. The sun was setting, and before I knew it, I was deep in a dark forest, enveloped in eerie quiet, with only the light of the moon glinting through the branches.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard a bone-chilling snarl. I barely had time to react and wonder what it was before I found myself face to face with a ravenous wolf. It pounced from the darkness and bared its fearsome fangs, intent on ripping out my throat. I could feel deeply buried instincts kick in, a strength I never knew I had, and I grappled with that wolf with all my might, knowing that to lose would mean my life.
We struggled for what seemed like hours. At times, I wanted to give up, but something within in me would not allow it. Finally, the wolf let go of me and collapsed to the snowy forest floor, completely exhausted. I did the same, and the world went black.
I was rescued two days later. When I awoke in the hospital, I did not recognize the man who stared back at me in the mirror. Bearded, grizzled, witness to a mighty struggle, I was forever changed. I asked the doctor what became of the wolf I fought with. “Wolf?” he replied, giving me an odd look. “There was no wolf. There haven’t been wolves in those mountains since, oh, caveman times, I’d say.”
I poured the whole experience into a set of lyrics, leaving my very soul upon the page, in a song I was sure would change the world as much as the writings of Jack London, or Ernest Hemingway. I captured the struggle between the modern and the primeval, how in each one of us there is a warrior waiting to burst forth and frighten us with its savagery.
Then Frank Sinatra wanted to record it and paid me a couple C-notes to “cute up that balloon juice.” Asshole.