1) An office crawfish boil in a parking lot, in August, in Houston. The heat’s insane, the conversation’s stuffier than the air, everyone’s sweating like stuck pigs and looking like hell. But, you know, it’s only an hour, and crawfish are tasty.
2) A friend’s holiday party, where he promises a bounty of gold, myrrh, unattached women, delicious adult beverages, presents, cheer, merriment, probably a guest appearance by Blitzen, and snuggly fireside chats with aforementioned women and beverages. In reality, the only single woman is his in-law, the gifts exchanged are those of “awkward silences” and “passive aggression” and the adult beverage is, you know, spritzer-inspired.
So, guess which one is the weather in February and which one is March.
Last Friday I basked in the glory of sunshine and daffodils, Bradford pears and joy. Girls in Sundresses were on parade past my house. I played badminton in a meadow with bears and bees alike. I rented a convertible for a day so I could put the top down, drive around the neighborhood, and wash other peoples’ cars in slow motion to the tune of Joe Satriani’s “Summer Song.“
Today, I write you from what can only be described as a “cave of ice and despair,” wearing a beige parka and golashes and a frown, wind and freezing rain pelting my iglooroof, a constant rapping that sounds like death itself knocking on my door, thinking only “this must be what Russia feels like,” and “pass the gruel,” and “do polar bears play badmin–ahh, what’s the use?”
In the words of Denny Green…”March, you are what we thought you were!”
All this to say, it’s raining water and sadness, so how about a few musical recommendations to suit the horrific weather? Here now, a few of my favorite…
Songs About Rain!
“Stormy Weather,” Etta James/Reigning Sound
“Stormy Weather” is something of a standard, covered by everyone from Miss James to cult punk heroes the Reigning Sound. It’s a terrificly versatile song, equally convincing as a crooner or as a rocker.
“I Can’t Stand the Rain,” Albert King
Another oft-covered tune (most famously sampled by Missy Elliot for “Supafly”), Albert King’s version is penned-up and punchy, full of frustrated energy and a terrific vocal.
“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” Burt Bacharach
If for no other reason than its involvement with Butch Cassidy.
“Red Rain,” White Stripes
One of White’s most Zeppelin-derivative songs, from the major-minor interplay to the slide guitar to the screeching-t0-a-breaking-point vocal. After “My Doorbell,” this might is my favorite track from Get Behind Me Satan. I’ve included a live performance on the iMeem playlist, since iMeem inexplicably didn’t have the album version handy.
“I Wish It Would Rain,” Temptations
Not much to say here I haven’t said before. Some of the smartest and most effective background vocals I’ve ever heard.
“Rain,” John Lennon
Not the best song John ever wrote, but it sounds like the best song Teenage Fanclub never wrote. Plus sitar. Good enough for me.
“Buckets of Rain,” Bob Dylan
“Rainy Day Women” and “Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” are less about rain and more about, well, everything else, but “Buckets” is in our wheelhouse. Proof that Dylan does “simple and lovely” as well as he ever did “epic and complex.”
“Sit and Listen to the Rain,” Whiskeytown
There is a time and a place for a 4-minute song that sounds like a monotonous rainfall. That time is now, that place is here.
“Rainy Day, Dream Away,” Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix often tried to approximate the sound of water/rain, most successfully on “May This Be Love?” Here, he goes in the opposite direction with a song that’s neither water-logged or dream-like. The result is one of his best.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain,” Creedence Clearwater Revival
John Fogerty wrote three melodies in his life. This was one of them. It’s my favorite.
“Fool in the Rain,” Led Zeppelin
Like Hendrix, Zeppelin liked to juxtapose a sad lyric with an upbeat song. “Fool in the Rain” is one of their tightest, most listenable compositions. It feels perfect from its first second to its last. Naturally, it’s not listed on iMeem, so the playlist has Zeppelin’s “Rain Song” instead.
“Tell It to the Rain,” Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons
For all their sentimentality and superficial sheen, some of the goofier oldies sound as real to me as anything. There’s a lot of truth beneath the gloss.
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson
A classic song, but an even better vocal. It’s astonishing.
“Raining in Baltimore,” Counting Crows
No way, no how was Adam “The Rain King” Duritz not making this list. Since “Rain King” itself already made the Songs for March, the naked gloom and beauty of “Raining in Baltimore” gets the nod.
(Side note: When Augustana’s “Boston” came out, I thought, “Hmm, that’s pretty much the same song as ‘Raining in Baltimore.’ It’s good, but, uh, it’s clearly their rewrite of ‘Raining in Baltimore.'” Three months later, “Boston” hit, they were opening for the Counting Crows off Adam Duritz’s personal recommendation, and order was restored to the universe.)
“No Rain,” Blind Melon
Because at least one song–one song–on this list has to be about the absence of rain, storms, dread, fear, death, and despair.
And, a special bonus….
Wait for it….
“November Rain,” by Guns N’ Roses
What are your favorite Songs About Rain?
Ain’t no monkey but I know what I like,