It’s supposed to be summer. But where I live, it’s rain, rain, rain every day. It’s a nice change of course, since I live in a desert climate. But I’m expecting 80-90 degree days without a cloud in the sky. Not a half-inch of rain each day as I look to the sky and cross my fingers that my basement doesn’t flood with each passing storm.
So here’s a quick list of my top 10 rain songs. So look it over and tell me what I’ve missed.
10. I Hear the Rain – Violent Femmes
Such a bitter, odd-sounding song that clocks in at 1 minute 33 seconds. “I Hear the Rain” was written by Gordon Gano when he was a high-school student and portrays typical high-school angst at its best. Another Femmes classic from their 1984 record Hallowed Ground.
Listen to “I Hear the Rain” Violent_Femmes_I_Hear_The_Rain.mp3
Buy “Hallowed Ground” from iTunes
9. The Rain Song – Led Zeppelin
A Zeppelin classic, I think of “The Rain Song” as a lesser-known “Stairway to Heaven” since it’s nearly as long and has many of the same dynamics. Quiet intro, slightly rocking middle section. All the Zeppelin ballad trademarks. From Houses of the Holy.
Buy “Houses of the Holy” from iTunes
8. Purple Rain – Prince
It’s Prince. It was the biggest song of his career. Somewhere someplace someone is drunkenly belting out this song in a karaoke bar somewhere. Give his purple majesty his respect.
Hear “Purple Rain”
7. Shadows in the Rain – Sting
Originally released by The Police on Zenyatta Mondatta, Sting dramatically re-worked “Shadows in the Rain” for his debut album, Dream of the Blue Turtles. This video shows the first time the new version was ever performed with his new band of mostly jazz musicians. From 1985. Sting took a huge risk leaving The Police at the height of their fame. He thought he might have a chance to make it as a solo artist. More than 100 million records and 16 Grammy Awards later, it’s fair to say he was right.
Buy “Dream of the Blue Turtles” from iTunes
6. Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that The Carpenters wrote monster hit songs that live on long after Karen Carpenter died at the age of 32 from heart failure in 1983. And really, not liking The Carpenters is like not liking waffles. Or puppies. It’s really not possible. They were, after all, the #1 selling American act of the 1970s. That’s right, they sold more records that Led Zeppelin, Styx, Journey, Boston, Chicago, The Jackson 5ive, The Rolling Stones and your favorite band too. More than 100 million records. Plus five TV specials and their own TV series. They. Were. HUGE.
Buy “Rainy Days and Mondays” from iTunes
5. Fire and Rain – James Taylor
Back in my guitar-playing days, I must have played this song about 7,000 times. I’m sure James Taylor is completely tired of the song. Then again, the song alone has probably bought him more houses, cars and divorce settlements than anything else he could have ever written. Taylor is a completely under-rated guitar player. Back in my guitar-teaching days, I often had students say they wanted to “play good, easy songs like Fire and Rain.” Good yes. Easy, not so much. Personally, I remain a fan. “Fire and Rain” comes from his 1970 record Sweet Baby Jamesand it sits at 227 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.
Buy “Sweet Baby James” from iTunes
4. Buckets of Rain – Bob Dylan
This is one of Dylan’s best songs from his most consistent record, Blood on the Tracks from 1975. It features my favorite and most simplistic Dylan lyrics:
Life is sad
Life is a bust
All ya can do is do what you must.
You do what you must do and ya do it well,
I’ll do it for you, honey baby,
Can’t you tell?
Buy “Blood on the Tracks” from iTunes
3. Rain King – Counting Crows
A great song from Counting Crows debut August and Everything After. In live performance, Adam Duritz has a tendency to over-sing and over-emote his way to ruining nearly every Counting Crows song. But not this version. It’s a tight, elegant little pop song.
Hear “Rain King”
Buy “August and Everything After” from iTunes
2. South Central Rain – R.E.M.
The song never mentions rain (besides the title). But it’s a great song from a record you should own: Reckoning by R.E.M. This video is R.E.M.’s first TV appearance on the original version of “Late Night with David Letterman.” Dave is young. R.E.M. is younger. And “South Central Rain” is so new it doesn’t yet have a name. The video is made complete by Michael Stipe’s ability to mumble every single word in the song to the point they are all unintelligable. Perfect.
Buy “Reckoning” from iTunes
1. Laughter in the Rain – Neil Sedaka
A surprise #1. I first heard this song on the school bus when I was in fourth grade. It was raining. The song was blaring from the AM radio. And every kid on the bus listened silently to this soft-rock gem by Neil Sedaka. I’m not kidding. My school bus was completely silent. That has probably never happened before in the history of elementary school bus routes. I’ve loved the song ever since. There is nothing cool, edgy, hip or rock ‘n’ roll about Neil Sedaka or “Laughter in the Rain.” It’s as cute as a puppy wrapped up in a warm waffle blanket. It’s that sweet. But it will always be my favorite rain song.
Buy “Laughter in the Rain” from iTunes
Filed under: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, Lists, Pop, Rock · Tags: Alternative Rock, Bob Dylan, Buckets of Rain, counting crows, fire and rain, I Hear the Rain, James Taylor, laughter in the rain, Led Zeppelin, neil sedaka, prince, purple rain, rain king, rainy days and mondays, shadows in the rain, sting, The Carpenters, the rain song, Violent Femmes