Summer, 1988. I had just gotten the bad news that I would be trapped in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 15th, when Iron Maiden was playing the Nassau Coliseum. So, I took my sulking self on a bike ride to Uncle Phil’s (remember that?) to pick up two tapes, one I can’t remember, and the other was Cinderella’s Long Cold Winter album. As soon as I got home, I was told to mow the lawn. Ugggh!! Life is so unfair!! So I grabbed the Walkman, put the album in, and went to work…
“Bad Seamstress Blues/Fallin’ Apart At the Seams” came out of those speakers, and immediately there was pep in my step. THIS is how you open a record, people. Some slide guitar, a lil bluesy boogie, then kick into an all-out rocker that left me jonesing like a crack head for my next hit, which came in the form of “Gypsy Road”. Who among us didn’t love this song, huh? That guitar line is instantly recognizable and every time I hear it, it’s like the first time all over again.
The best rock and metal bands of the 80’s knew how to write a love song that tugged at your heartstrings, and Cinderella gave us one of the all-time greats with “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. I can still remember my 9th grade girlfriend Jessica rewinding the tape over and over just to hear Tom Keifer singing, “cause you paaain…”. It’s such a great song. The jangly guitars at the start of “The Last Mile” are interesting because you think the song’s gonna go one way, and then it hardens a bit on the verses before going clean on the choruses again. Kudos to whoever thought of doing it that way.
“Second Wind” fits the role of your standard side one closer in that it’s fast and loud. Actually, it’s a lot better live, because the whole band gets to open’er up and jams a bit. It could potentially go on for seven or eight minutes, and that would be just fine.
Side two starts with “Long Cold Winter”, title track, bluesy number, and ultimate song about love and loss. Clocking in at 5:22, the guitar licks dance like flames, the organ hums, and Tom sings like a man who’s hurting bad. It’s a killer fucking blues jam; there’s really no other way to describe it. “If You Don’t Like It” is a well-written middle finger to anyone who tries to bring you down, and gets the point across in style.
One of the band’s biggest hits comes in the form of “Coming Home”, and rightfully so. From the 12-string guitars, to the lower-key arrangements, it really is a perfect song, and probably my favorite, not just on this record, but from Cinderella in general. If you’ve ever heard this while really missing someone, well, you just get it. The last two minutes can still get me all misty sometimes.
The slide guitar slithers up and down “Fire and Ice” and closer “Take Me Back”, the former of which sounds like it could’ve been on Night Songs, and the latter of which is another of my favorites on the record. A perfect way to end a perfect album. I will never forget that summer, or that trip to Ireland, where Long Cold Winter was on constant repeat for two weeks. We made a lot of memories to this album, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.