“Here comes the rain again…falling on my head like a memory.” – The Eurythmics
I think the weather has always had an effect on my mood. Perhaps too strong of an effect if I’m being completely honest. Years ago I had a job as a traveling salesman for this criminal outfit out of Chicago. I truly believe this company did most of their recruiting at local prisons. Theft on your record was considered an asset when selling their products. It was a tough gig. I drove around northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas traveling to every small town hospital in the vicinity. The company I worked for didn’t pay much and it’s a time in my life I consider a “low period.” I did learn a valuable lesson though – there’s no such thing as hot, naughty nurses. Quite the opposite in fact. I used to call on an older woman who ran the laundry at one of the local hospitals, she had a tall, teased bouffant that was circa 1950s and a thicker mustache than me. I never saw her out of her hospital uniform. I still wonder if she ever wore street clothes. She was as tough as nails and extremely perceptive. She once said to me, “I always know what the weather is like outside when you come in, I can read it in your mood.” I never sold her much and it was always discounted heavily. You couldn’t fool her.
It was certainly a pain in the ass doing that job when it was raining. I had a giant case in which I used to carry product samples and catalogs. I usually had stuff under each arm. Carrying an umbrella was difficult in that situation, fully laden if you will. I can still conjure the smell of the wet wool of my suits as I slogged through the pouring rain. It was worse when it snowed. I was living with my parents at the time, which is always a career highlight on anybody’s resume… and to think I was single, ladies. I came out of the house, fully laden with medical supplies, headed to my car when I noticed it had snowed. I saw all the little kiddos across the street, bundled up and waiting on the bus. What I hadn’t realized is that it had rained before it snowed, leaving a sheet of treacherous ice lurking underneath the fluffy powder. That fact dawned on me as I saw my wingtip shoes go flying past my face. I hit the driveway with a resounding thud…the catalogs I was carrying, along with my big sample case, slowly slid down my parents sloped, icy driveway. I laid there for a second hoping death would come. Alas, I only ended up with a pair of ripped suit pants. When I finally stood up to retrieve everything I’d dropped…I could hear the cackling laughs of the kids at the bus stop. Children can be so cruel, you know.
Rain is such an evocative thing. While it occasionally conjures memories of those awful medical supply days, it also brings other, more pleasant memories. I remember a girl I knew, not biblically, who used to love to jog in the rain. It was fun to watch… Rain brings to mind all kind of things. It can be considered a cleansing force, perhaps even redemptive in some ways, washing away the sins of the past. It doesn’t always have to be something wrathful. It’s restorative and brings forth life, especially in the spring. There’s nothing like leaving the window open when it’s raining and love is on your mind… Hell, there’s nothing like leaving the window open when it’s raining and sleep is on your mind… it’s utterly relaxing to lie and listen to the falling rain on the roof.
I began to think about all the different rock and roll bands/artists who had devoted a song to rain or storms. I will admit in the spirit of full disclosure, my thoughts have strayed in this direction for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that I’ve been housebound the last two weeks since my foot surgery. I’ve only been outside to go to the doctor. I’ve been nursed slowly back to health by the Rock Chick… and while I’ve felt a little like James Caan in the movie Misery, I can report that the Rock Chick has been much nicer to me than Kathy Bates was, thank God. The other reason for my thoughts about rainy day songs is simple. This spring in the midwest has been one of unrelenting, heavy rains. I’m talking about all day precipitation events. I spent all day Saturday, when the shank of the afternoon was as dark as dusk listening to the steady, persistent rain falling. I’ve glanced at the forecast and it appears that the entire upcoming Memorial Day weekend will be a wet one.
What I like about all of these different songs and different artists are the different moods, tempos, styles that rain has evoked for each of them. I was also amazed at the sheer magnitude of the number of rain songs out there. When I first started this list I had over 80 songs and it ran for almost eight hours. I had to make some edits… Neil Young’s “Like a Hurricane” was a bit to epic and Springsteen’s “Lost In the Flood” a little too grim, so this is not an exhaustive list of rain songs, just a long one. As usual, I tried to mix the well-known with the obscure. As those of you who follow our playlists know, I try to keep my playlists limited to around 2 hours. However, like the constant rains of spring, I felt this list should be longer. It’s too dark to read, there’s nothing on TV now that Game of Thrones has stumbled to its inevitable conclusion. Why not spend the entire afternoon listening to music. The moods and tempos here are all over the place. It’s not a bad playlist to have in the background on those wet, dank days. With nothing else to do but drink, perhaps this will keep you in a better mood. Enjoy!
As always you can find this list on Spotify, just search on “BourbonAndVinyl.net Rainy Day Songs.” My thoughts on each track, below.
- The Alarm, “Rain In The Summertime” – I saw the Alarm in a small club back in the late 80s/early 90s. Great, great band with a great great song.
- Peter Wolf, “It’s Raining” – A song written with the great Don Covay.
- Lowell George, “I Can’t Stand The Rain” – From Lowell’s only solo record.
- Warren Zevon, “Fistful of Rain” – Zevon’s characteristic fabulous lyrics.
- Blind Melon, “No Rain” – Perhaps the antithesis of our theme but a great track.
- Neil Young, “See The Sky About To Rain” – From On The Beach the third of the Ditch Trilogy.
- The Faces, “I Wish It Would Rain” – Great cover of the old Temptations track.
- R.E.M., “So Central Rain” – I love the album Reckoning.
- Johnny Lang, “Still Raining” – I love this bluesy, rocker.
- John Mellencamp, “Rain On The Scarecrow” – Rocking, farm protest music, fuck yes!
- Jimi Hendrix, “In From the Storm” – Jimi conjures the storm with a guitar. The guy was really that good.
- Credence Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” – Great, political metaphor.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Naked In the Rain” – A state I’ve never been in, but I’ve had a few nightmares where I’m downtown, naked and need to get home.
- The Rolling Stones, “Little Rain” – Sublime blues tune.
- Stevie Nicks, “Outside The Rain” – From her perfect first solo album, Bella Donna.
- Grateful Dead, “Box of Rain” – I always liked their country rock stuff better than that plunky, jammy stuff.
- The Runaways, “Thunder” – Ok, this track is about sex, but I like the Runaways and wanted to hear them.
- The Beatles, “Rain” – One of my favorite Lennon tunes.
- The Police, “Shadows In the Rain” – A tale of madness. Sting actually redid this song, and it’s one of the only redo’s that I actually like. It got a little jazzy in the end so I stuck with the original.
- AC/DC, “Stormy May Day” – Angus on a rare slide guitar. I hope they explore this sound more.
- Counting Crows, “Rain King” – I debated on this one. I run hot/cold on the Crows. But this is such a great song I added it.
- Billy Joel, “Storm Front” – Title track from his last, really great album.
- Silvertide, “Califronia Rain” – An obscure band the Rock Chick is into… Great rocking track.
- Randy Newman, “Rider In The Rain” – A wonderful, hysterical cowboy song with the Eagles singing back up vocals. Perhaps my favorite song on here.
- Bob Dylan, “The Levee’s Gonna Break” – Inspired by Katrina. Great, latter day Dylan.
- Eric Clapton, “Come On In My Kitchen” – The old Robert Johnson track, “come on in my kitchen, it’s gonna be rainin’ outside.”
- Sting, “Heavy Cloud, No Rain” – Another use of rain as a metaphor for sex, or lack there of.
- Lenny Kravitz, “I Love The Rain” – Great, overlooked Kravitz track.
- ZZ Top, “Sure Got Cold After the Rain” – ZZ laying down some great blues.
- Credence Clearwater Revival, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” – “…coming down, sunny days.”
- Jackson Browne, “You Love The Thunder” – “…and you love the rain.” So do I, if I’m being honest.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Louisiana Rain” – Deep track from Damn The Torpedoes.
- Led Zeppelin, “Fool In the Rain” – Where our hero is waiting for his love on the wrong block.
- Prince, “Purple Rain” – One of the few, epic, long tracks that I left on here… you need a few of those for a long day of listening.
- The Rolling Stones, “Rain Fall Down” – From what appears to be the last LP of original stuff they’ll ever do, A Bigger Bang.
- Led Zeppelin, “The Rain Song” – They wrote this song in response to George Harrison saying the only problem with Zeppelin was they didn’t have any ballads.
- U2, “Summer Rain” – Great B-side.
- Mudcrutch, “Orphan Of The Storm” – Tom Petty’s side project singing about Katrina.
- Jimi Hendrix, “Rainy Day, Dream Away” – Jazzy little groove from the guitar master.
- Bad Company, “Burnin’ Sky” – Not sure this track fits, but it has cool storm sounds at the beginning and at the end so I threw it on here.
- Peter Gabriel, “Red Rain” – I almost went with “Here Comes the Flood” but it was too downer.
- Guns N Roses, “November Rain” – The last real epic track I included. I always think of the video.
- Led Zeppelin, “When the Levee Breaks” – Fabulous, Chicago-style blues.
- Bruce Hornsby & the Range, “Mandolin Rain” – How about the Range!
- Fleetwood Mac, “Storms” – Trippy groovy track by Stevie.
- Van Morrison, “And It Stoned Me” – The opening track from Moondance.
- Eurythmics, “Here Comes The Rain Again” – Written in a hotel room in New York city during a rainstorm.
- Triumph, “Tears In The Rain” – A little something from Canada’s second best power trio.
- Ozzy Osbourne, “Black Rain” – Title track from a late period B&V fav from Ozzy.
- John Hiatt, “Feels Like Rain” – The oft covered gem. I first heard this as I was climbing into a cab leaving the “A Taste of Chicago” festival. I could hear him singing from the cab and thought, why’d we leave?
- Stevie Ray Vaughn, “Texas Flood” – Title track from his epic debut album.
- Eric Clapton, “Let It Rain” – One of Slowhand’s best tracks.
- Elvis Presley, “Kentucky Rain” – The King back in Memphis reclaiming the Throne.
- The Doors, “Riders On the Storm” – Some trippy acid-jazz. There really is “a killer on the road.”
- The Cult, “Rain” – From their fabulous 2nd album, Love.
- Bob Dylan, “Buckets of Rain” – The saddest track here.
- The James Gang, “Ashes the Rain and I” – When I think of the James Gang, I think of Joe Walsh’s guitar freak outs. This is a quiet acoustic piece I’ve always loved.
- Stevie Ray Vaughn, “Couldn’t Stand the Weather” – A little something for those of you who hate the rain.
- The Who, “Love Reign O’er Me” – The epic conclusion of Quadrophenia.
There it is folks. 59 tracks and 4 and half hours. If I missed anything egregiously obvious, put the song name/artist in the comments section and I’ll add it! That should keep you entertained during the next deluge. Stay dry out there, pour something strong and enjoy!