Christmas Songs Over-Analyzed: “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

I’ll just say this: if you’re the kind of person who isn’t amused by comically aggressive but fictional holiday sexual overtures, this post might not be for you. Go read one of my less sexually-charged Songs Overanalyzed, like DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s Summertime, Psy’s Gangnam Style, or if you’re in the mood for something festive, Wham!’s Last Christmas. You’ve been warned- lots of dirty words comin’.

Still with me? Let’s do this.

Few songs garner as much radio airplay as Baby, It’s Cold Outside. This is partly due to the fact that since its inception in 1944, the track has been recorded by over 50 duets, ranging from John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John to She and Him’s Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward to Rudolf Nureyev & Miss Piggy.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside’s lyrics feature a post-date conversation between a man and a woman, labeled on the printed score as “mouse” and “wolf”. While these assigned animals do seem to accurately represent the duet’s participants, I guess I never realized just how desperate wolves were to bone mice.

(“Wolf” lyrics in parentheses)

I really can’t stay (But baby it’s cold outside)
I’ve got to go away (But baby it’s cold outside)
This evening has been (Been hoping that you’d drop in)
So very nice (I’ll hold your hands they’re just like ice)

What a sweet, tender moment to end what seemed like a lovely evening. You have to respect the guy for trying to extend the date, the worst she could say is no, right? I’m sure this will end with both parties mutually satisfied.

My mother will start to worry (Beautiful, what’s your hurry?)

Um, she just told you what the hurry is, her mom is up waiting for her. Don’t get her wrong, this night has been positively delightful, but she’d hate to break curfew, on account of she’s such a good girl and all.

And father will be pacing the floor (Listen to the fireplace roar)

Seriously, she has a sparkling track record with her folks, don’t blow this for her.

So really I’d better scurry (Beautiful please don’t hurry)
Well maybe just a half a drink more (Put some records on while I pour)

Wait. A half a drink MORE? You guys have been boozin’, and she’s worried about getting home to her parents? I’m starting to fuzz out on the perceived ages of “wolf” and “mouse” here. Let’s examine the situation: he clearly has his own place, so he’s probably older, but not necessarily super-creep older, as maybe he’s mid-20s and she’s recently of drinking age and at the tail end of living with Ma and Pa. Let’s go with that.

The neighbors might think (Baby it’s bad out there)

“Screw the neighbors, it’s none of their business. Plus, they see a hungover piece of tail leave my place at least 4 mornings a week, they’re used to this shit”, thought Wolf.

Say what’s in this drink?


(No cabs to be had out there)

“Nope, no cabs. And OF COURSE there’s no way I’m driving you home. I’m shit-bombed.”

I wish I knew how (Your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat your hair looks swell)

Laying it on thick now, her “eyes are like starlight”, her “hair looks swell”. Wait- “swell”? The last thing I heard someone unironically refer to as “swell” was pork chops and applesauce.

I ought to say no no no sir (Mind if I move in closer)

It bothers me that she calls him “sir” while he’s been calling her “baby” the whole song. Have you no sense of decorum, “Wolf”?

At least I’m going to say that I tried (What’s the sense of hurtin’ my pride?)

Oh boy, there’s his opening. “At least I’m gonna say that I tried”- it doesn’t matter where this night goes, any defense attorney worth his salt is gonna get the charges against this guy dropped. GREEN LIGHT.

I really can’t stay (Baby don’t hold out)
[BOTH] (Baby it’s cold outside)

This is happening.

I simply must go (But, Baby it’s cold outside)
The answer is no (But, Baby it’s cold outside)

Translation: [MOUSE] “Time to be a little more firm, this guy doesn’t seem to get the picture.”

[WOLF] “Oh I hear you sweetheart, it’s those aforementioned neighbors who won’t hear the screams.”

This welcome has been (How lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (Look out the window at that storm)

“And come check out my skull collection in the basement.”

My sister will be suspicious  (Gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (Waves upon a tropical shore)

She’s already trying to line up key witnesses for the prosecution (mother, father, sister, brother), but the fact of the matter is this: just like there was a monster at the end of Grover’s book, there’s a rapist at the end of this song. STOP TURNING PAGES!

My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious (Gosh your lips are delicious)
Well, maybe just a cigarette more (Never such a blizzard before)

Well that was a quick turnaround. That’s all it takes? Twelve compliments about how pretty your lips are and you’re sold on staying for a cigarette? You’re either a hopeless nicotine addict prone to insanely bad decisions or you’re trying to create a distraction. Yes, that’s it! When he goes for the smokes, you whack him with a vase, leap over the davenport and make for the door.

I got to get home (But baby you’d freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat (It’s up to your knees out there)

OK the cigarette gambit fell through. Maybe a coat? Nope. Come on lady, the guy has already refused to call you a cab AND you suspected him of lacing your drink with something. He may be a dog, but he’s not happily fetching you a coat anytime soon.

You’ve really been grand (A thrill when you touch my hand)
But don’t you see (How can you do this thing to me?)

“This thing” = blue balls.

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow (Think of my life long sorrow)

Guilt trip.

At least there will be plenty implied (If you caught pneumonia and died)

Death threats.

I really can’t stay (Get over that old doubt, Baby it’s cold-)
[BOTH] Baby it’s cold outside

The pair eventually engage in turbulent and resentful semi-consentual sex. “Mouse” murders “Wolf”, smokes his last cigarette, and as predicted, the neighbors hear nothing.

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