Trip Shakespeare (L-R: Matt Wilson - Guitars, Vocals; Elaine Harris - Drums, Percussion; John Munson - Fretless Bass, Vocals; Dan Wilson - Guitar, Piano, Vocals)
"Snow Days" was never anything close to a hit song, but for thousands of people in Minneapolis, it is almost a state anthem—a tribute to the notoriously brutal yet joyous winters of the Twin Cities. It is the third track on Across The Universe, the third album by the Minnesota locals Trip Shakespeare. Though a cult favorite, Trip Shakespeare isn't quite as famous as the sum of its parts. After breaking up in 1993, bassist John Munson and vocalist Dan Wilson left to form Semisonic, which spent the later half of the 90s topping the charts with a song called "Closing Time." Dan Wilson has since won two Grammys for his songwriting collaborations with Dixie Chicks ("Not Ready To Make Nice") and Adele ("Someone Like You.")
"Snow Days" was written by Matt Wilson—Dan's slightly younger brother—and is sung primarily by John Munson. It tells the story of a "Mrs. Braintree" and the violent morning snow which makes her commute to work essentially impossible. After all, "all the roads are closed" and "It's coming down." The three singers cry out "it's coming down" so often on "Snow Days" that you can't help but take their word for it—it's probably a blizzard out there. Though Dan Wilson's piano sounds nothing like Vince Guaraldi's, his sensitivity on the instrument combined with drummer Elaine Harris's performance on sleigh bells makes the song sound almost like a B-side off of A Charlie Brown Christmas. John Munson isn't as gifted of a singer as the Wilson brothers—who sing lead vocals on about two thirds of the group's entire catalog—but he is theatrical and emotive, almost like a stage actor. He is also a brilliant fretless bass player and he slides around on his instrument like a car hydroplaning. As singers, the Wilson brothers of Trip Shakespeare pull off wonderful harmonies which would make the Wilson brothers of The Beach Boys quite proud. If John Munson sounds like he's singing about Mrs. Braintree, the two brothers sound like they are singing to Mrs. Braintree. They sound almost like guardian angels, providing the same advice to the poor Mrs. Braintree: "go home and take a snow day." Rarely has a psychedelic rock band pulled off something so endearing and heartwarming. Trip Shakespeare did. For more than 20 years,"Snow Days" has been played on radio stations in Minnesota. If you ask me, it should be played all over the world in December.
"Snow Days" by Trip Shakespeare
"Snow Days (Live 2010)" by The New Standards (feat. John Munson. Special Appearance by Matt Wilson)
On December 7th 2013, the full Trip Shakespeare lineup reunited for two songs at the annual New Standards holiday show. While 3/4 of Trip Shakespeare have been known to perform from time to time with semisonic drummer Jake Slichter, this was the first reunion with the amazing stand-up drummer Elaine Harris in 20 years! Here's an extra special performance of "Snow Days" featuring Chan Poling, vocalist and pianist of both The New Standards and The Suburbs.
"Snow Days" by Trip Shakespeare (feat. Chan Poling)
That same night, Trip Shakespeare also played "Susannah" a fan-favorite b-side which Matt Wilson also included on "Descender," his out-of-print post-Trip Shakespeare demo from 1994.
"Susannah" by Trip Shakespeare