“Everybody loves a rain song, because everybody’s been rained on…” — BJ Thomas
While the West blisters in sweltering heat, here in the Mid-Atlantic, we are being doused with our third day of muggy showers. While sitting here, thinking of something to write about, rain songs from my youth keep permeating my idle brain. I share, you share, okay?
It started yesterday when driving home from moving some equipment for a friend, this song popped into my head watching the rain drops bead off the truck window. This Johnny Rivers album cut exemplifies one thing I’ve noticed; “rain songs” always have a strong narrative.
This one’s a little different, as the narrative is upbeat and positive…
And then this jumped into my head, recalling driving in the car with my mom picking up my sister from day camp.
Unlike the Rivers’ tune, this one is more in line with the majority of rain songs, the rain symbolizes the pain in the singer’s life, in this case a lost love.
But if you want sad, how about this blues tune from Brook Benton, written by the 70’s song writing icon, Tony Joe White.
The pain in Benton’s voice is so strong, you have to wonder if he was conjuring up some real life pain to get there.
And here’s Tony Joe’s version, which is TEN TIMES sadder. But man, this IS the blues in a nutshell…
Annie Lennox made the rain more bearable by comparing the wet weather to her lover, her ever sad voice uplifted into sensuality when she asks, “Is it raining with you?”. Damn right it is, Annie!
Shirley Manson begged us to “pour your misery down on me” in her seminal 90’s hit “I’m Only Happy When It Rains”, appealling to the drama queen in all of us. Garbage recently reunited recently, and I’m pleased to report Shirley still looks good.
Adam Duritz of Counting Crows told us once in an interview that the impetus for “Raining In Baltimore” was a trip to Charm City for a relative’s funeral. No one does sad, rain songs better than Adam.
And then there’s just dumping out the sad and making the rain something to celebrate, at least if you’re a woman or a gay man.
John Bonham’s driving drum beat fuels Led Zeppelin’s “Fool In The Rain”, one of many excursions into rain the band had. This one stands out for me because it brings back great memories of working in college radio.
I always loved the way Robert Plant’s vocals kind of stumble along, tripping staccato over lines like “I watch the people go shop-ping down-town”.
Off the beaten path , The Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain”, whose lyrics seemed to only make sense when you had the headphones on listening after a nice lungful of good bud, seems like a perfect addition to this list. The bud also helped you ignore how out of tune this song is.
I don’t know why, I just loved the idea of a box of rain, and splintered sunlight.
I chose this one for the beautifully rendered animated video. Patty Griffin has the most beautiful voice, and more people should know about her, so if you haven’t heard of her, this song is a great intro…
And as I’m compiling this list, the sun has broken through outside, and now I have the perfect way to end it.
Did you know it’s okay to comment on and add your won songs to this list? It is. It really is. Don’t be a wallflower or a spam bot. Be a part of this blog. I like sharing and you should too.