Song Saturday: “Early Winter”

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For this week’s edition of Flashback Friday, we’re looking back at one of Gwen’s most cherished solo singles from The Sweet Escape, “Early Winter”.

Co-written with Keane’s Tim Rice-Oxley, the track was released in Europe as the album’s fifth and final single. Before working together in the studio, Gwen reached out to Rice-Oxley about an idea she had for a song saying, “I wanted a ballad. I wanted to write ‘Eyes Without a Face’ or ‘Killing Me Softly’ or ‘Time After Time,’ and he was like, ‘OK, Cyndi Lauper, got it,’ like he was taking my order.” While meeting in the studio soon after, Rice-Oxley played “Early Winter” for Gwen on piano and she instantly approved and fell in love with it. She then re-worked some of the lyrics after going over the song a bit and called the track “beautiful and addictive”. Produced by Nellee Hooper, “Early Winter” was recorded in 2006 at Home Recordings in London. Rice-Oxley provided piano on the final studio version.

Keane have performed their original take on “Early Winter” live over the years while on tour.

This was the first time Rice-Oxley worked outside of Keane with another artist and had nothing but kind things to say about Gwen and collaborating with her. “She likes to write from the heart. She’s obviously quite an emotional person. Within 10 minutes of us sitting down, she was crying. I played her a little bit of a thing that I’d been working on just before she came in and she welled up about it.”

Gwen definitely added her own touch to the lyrics which are heartbreaking. MTV’s Jennifer Vineyard described “Early Winter” with it’s “poignant lyrics about a couple recognizing the beginning of the end”. Many speculated that the lyrics were in reference to her relationship with husband Gavin.

The “Early Winter” video, directed by Sophie Muller, was filmed in locations such as Budapest (including the Nyugati railway station), Milan, and Prague while Gwen was on tour in Europe. Gorgeous solo footage of Gwen is featured throughout the video and was praised by both critics and fans. Backup dancer Steelo Vazquez portrays a love interest for Gwen in the video and she’s seen in breathtaking gowns throughout, including the green Dolce & Gabbana one featured on the single’s artwork. The music video premiered in the US on LAUNCHcast on November 15, 2007 and on MTV’s Total Request Live on December 18, 2007.

“Early Winter” was released and promoted in Europe while The Sweet Escape tour made it’s way there in 2007. The track was available as a digital download on iTunes in January 2008 as well as a CD single that included both the single edit and live version. “Early Winter” peaked at #6 in both Germany and Slovakia and hit #26 on Europe’s Hot 100 Singles. Reviewers called the track a standout on The Sweet Escape and felt it would be a strong single choice.

Fans named “Early Winter” their second favorite solo single from Gwen (behind “What You Waiting For?”) in a recent poll. Critics also loved it saying it reminded them of No Doubt and were impressed by her vocal ability on the track.

Gwen performed the single nightly on her Sweet Escape tour in 2007 which included beautiful backdrops and stage footage. “Early Winter” was a highlight in the set which showed off Gwen’s talent of connecting with the audience on an emotional level. Critics also praised tour mate and legendary bassist Gail Ann Dorsey for her special coda section on the end of the 2007 tour version.

Gwen most recently performed “Early Winter” in Los Angeles this past February at the Orpheum Theatre for her exclusive MasterCard Priceless Surprises show.

Lyrics

You, you know how to get me so low
My heart had a crash when we spoke
I can’t fix what you broke

You, you always have a reason
Again and again this feelin’
Why do I give in?

And I always was, always was one for crying
I always was one for tears
The suns getting cold, it’s snowing

Looks like an early winter for us
Looks like an early winter for us
An early winter
Oh I need you to turn me over

It’s sad, the map of the world is on you
The moon gravitates around you
The seasons escape you

And I always was, always was one for crying
I always was one for tears
No, I never was, never was one for lying
You lied to me all of these years
The sun’s gettin’ cold, it’s snowing

Looks like an early winter for us
Looks like an early winter for us
An early winter
Oh I need you to turn me over

Why?
Why do you act so stupid?
Why?
You know that I’m always right

It looks like an early winter for us
It hurts and I can’t remember sunlight
An early winter for us
The leaves are changing color for us

And it gets too much, yeah it gets so much
Starting over and over and over again
It looks like an early winter for us

35 thoughts on “Song Saturday: “Early Winter”

  1. Definitely 100% one of her best solo songs. And that is because IMO it does sound like ND. Just like Danger zone…

  2. One of my top five too. I also love the video. I kinda wanted her to do her new solo album in this direction. Like an adult contemporary mature record. I know her and her team likely want her to have a big hit so they are probably going for a dance sound.

  3. Original track is 10 000 times better than single version. After all this years, that edited version of the song still sounding weird imo.

    1. I agree. I hadn’t listened to it in a long time and while making this post it threw me off a little when I was watching the video. It’s edited oddly.

  4. I never really payed attention to the lyrics but reading them right now made me realize how sad this song is. And the video is so dramatic lol

  5. It really was a mistake to release this “shorter” version as a single. The album version would had been a hit… who knows?

  6. Rosie Marie, yeah cause you definitely need to behave more mature once you turn 40. That’s why I’ll support Spark The Fire no matter what. Only a fool can’t see how much that song represents our Gwen.

  7. I agree Batcaver, I’m so used to the album version that every time I hear the video version I get kinda lost. It kind of destroys the meaning to me. Anyway let’s not forget that this song was only released as single in a few countries of Europe.

  8. Yeah I agree the best part of the song was cut out! I love the first verses. And at the time I thought it was released everywhere because I seen the video at a couple different places. I think it would have fared better than 4 in the morning did if released here and promoted.

  9. NDLover, sigh. So once again everybody who has a different opinion from yours is a fool. Lots of fools in the ND fan community apparently…

    Gwen’s real strength in making songs has always been creating poignant, personal lyrics imo. That’s why I hope her next album will reflect that and not be an overproduced, synthetic, overly hip dance record.

  10. I know what you mean about having a more Adult Contemporary kind of album but at the same time I love when Gwen is also silly, quirky and edgy. She’s always been like that anyway. That’s why both No Doubt and her solo are like a fruit salad. She has songs for every taste. So it makes no sense to me when people start casting stones at her for behaving a certain way cause she’s old now.

  11. This song has always been a highlight for me in her solo catalogue. It was a huge hit here in Germany and it still gets played a lot on the radio. I also agree that the single version wasn’t edited very well and I have to say that the video definitely didn’t live up to its potential. The video is beautiful, but very boring.

    I think they really ruined some potential hits by releasing weird single versions. The single version of NTYGI was also awful and Slim Thugg wasn’t a good additon to Luxurious imho. Crash could’ve been a hit too with a better video.

  12. ^ The single version of NTYGI was the worst thing she has ever released imo. No wonder it performed poorly on the charts. Now the live version IS amazing!

  13. The EW video is pretty, but not particularly memorable. I always mix it up with 4ITM. The live version was a highlight though. I love when the bassist comes in at the end. It shows how humble Gwen is to want another singer be featured (on TRT and Lux too) during her tour!

  14. One of the few songs that I like from her solo era. And I agree with “D” , it sounds like it could have been a ND song, along with Danger Zone.
    Only thing I don’t like about this song is the part where she says “Why do you act so stupid?” Ugh, I cringe every time she sings that part.

  15. Yeah the video is very pretty but rather one dimensional. Especially in the green gown, all she does is walk in and out! It would’ve been nice to have more of a story. I feel the same way about 4 in the morning. I love that song so much that I stopped watching the video. Overall I much prefer Gwen’s videos from her first solo record!

  16. Sophie is the problem imho. Most of her more recent videos are just endless glamour shots to make Gwen look good. She does look good, but the videos are a little bland imho. I agree that the videos from the first album were a lot better than the TSE videos. I know they had zero budget, but maybe a different director could’ve made a better video for BDL.

  17. BDL had budget, Apple gave money so did the other brands featured on the video. Problem was the storyline, or lack of it, on the video. All the other stuff Sophie has worked with Gwen and the band look like they are tour videos, to be played on the background, just to showcase Gwen doing poses and making pretty faces…

  18. Ya I hope she works with new directors for her new solo. Did Sophie direct bathwater?? That video is simple but great

  19. Out of all her slower solo tracks I think “wonderful life” is one of the best. At one of her shows here in LA Shirley Manson came out and sang it with her and it was amazing. I really wanted it as a single

  20. I hope she works with different people too, but let’s be honest. That’s not going to happen. The last time she ventured out LH happened.

  21. The concept for the Looking Hot video was so random. It’s a beautiful video and I like it for what it is, but to this day I don’t understand why they picked that theme tbh. It made no sense at all.

  22. Sophie just doesn’t seem to be very inspired anymore tbh. The last good video she did with Gwen was “Cool”. WIU was also ok for what it was, but after that all her videos for Gwen/ND were really boring sadly. It’s a shame since Gwen is a very visual artist imho.

    I agree that the theme for the LH video was very random, but at least that video had an actual theme and it was something new for a change. All controvery aside, it was a pretty cool video to watch.

  23. I agree @yyy, “cool” is probably the best video Sophie has done with Gwen. She looks so fucking hot and beautiful in literally every frame, the concept, everything about it was great.

    & ya LH was a totally random video, but I never liked that song to begin with, I dont think the video controversy was the fall of P&S, I think there was stronger single choices than Lh

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