Yesterday, I reviewed Rain: A Natural and Cultural History. In the book Cynthia Barnett talks about all the poetry and songs inspired by rain. One example from classical music is Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (Number 6) with its famous storm section. But there are a number of popular songs that come to mind as well. Here are my top ten. I suspect you will think of other favorites which I’d love for you to add.
10. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, B.J Thomas. Brings back memories of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
9. Rainy Night in Georgia, Brook Benton. A haunting, moody song of remembering love. “Seems like it’s raining all over the world.”
8. I Wish It Would Rain, The Temptations. A song of lost love and the wish for rain to drown out sorrow.
7. Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers. Technically rain isn’t mentioned but a great, soulful song of how dark it is “any time she goes away.
6. Set Fire to the Rain, Adele. An interesting fusion of images “I set fire to the rain
And I threw us into the flames.” The consuming power and ache of love.
5. Riders on the Storm, The Doors. Barnett mentions this and Ray Manzarek’s descending piano run suggesting the cascades of rain. I remember it as one of their last songs, Jim Morrison’s farewell,as it were: “Into this house we’re born/Into this world we’re thrown/
Like a dog without a bone/An actor out on loan./Riders on the storm.”
4. Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers. “Summer rain taps at my window/West wind soft as a sweet dream/My love, warm as the sunshine/Sitting here by me, yeah/She’s here by me” One of those “summer of love songs” not of love lost but love at its sweetest.
3. Stormy Weather, Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler wrote the words of this blues song made famous by Billy Holiday. “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky/Stormy weather/
Since my man and I ain’t together,/Keeps rainin’ all of the time.”
2. Fire and Rain, James Taylor. Another song that juxtaposes these images as Taylor sings of the suicide death of childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr. “I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end./I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.”
1. Singin’ In the Rain, Gene Kelly. Perhaps the most famous and exuberant song of all time about rain as Kelly splashes and dances and exulting over his love after seeing Debbie Reynolds for the night.
Well, there is the list and it suggests the many moods of rain, from bluesy to joyous, fiery to reflective. So, what are your favorite rain songs?