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Top 10 Rain Songs

rain-stormIt’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 Groundicon

Listen to “I Hear the Rain” Violent_Femmes_I_Hear_The_Rain.mp3

Buy “Hallowed Groundicon” 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 Holyicon.

Buy “Houses of the Holyicon” 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”
Prince_Purple_Rain.mp3

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 Turtlesicon. 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 Turtlesicon” 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 Mondaysicon” 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 Jamesiconand it sits at 227 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Buy “Sweet Baby Jamesicon” from iTunes

4. Buckets of Rain – Bob Dylan

This is one of Dylan’s best songs from his most consistent record, Blood on the Tracksicon 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?

Dylan_Buckets_Of_Rain.mp3

Buy “Blood on the Tracksicon” from iTunes
 

3. Rain King – Counting Crows

A great song from Counting Crows debut August and Everything Aftericon. 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”
Counting_Crows_Rain_King.mp3

Buy “August and Everything Aftericon” 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: Reckoningicon 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 “Reckoningicon” 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 Rainicon.” 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 Rainicon” from iTunes

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I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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14 Responses to "Top 10 Rain Songs"

  1. Matt Thurston says:

    No room for “It’s Raining Again” by Supertramp?

    The Cult’s “Rain” from the Love album (same album that features She Sells Sanctuary) is a good track. That whole album is actually a pretty good “rainy day” album.

    Love the song “Happy When It Rains” by Jesus and Mary Chain off the Darklands album.

    Which also brings to mind “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” by Garbage, another nice track.

    The Eurythmics “Here Comes the Rain Again” has a nice rain-y feel, dontcha think?

    Glad you did *not* include the bloated “November Rain” by Guns N Roses or the annoying “No Rain” by Blind Melon. Or Milli Vinilli’s “Blame it on the Rain.”

    Although I’m not a big CCR fan, I’ve always made an exception for “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”

    And the somewhat lesser known (at least here in the U.S.) is The Blue Nile’s “Tinseltown in the Rain”, a more alt-adult-contemporary band in the mold of latter Talk Talk.

    The Cure’s “Prayers for Rain” is a solid track.

    And Echo & The Bunnymen’s “Ocean Rain” is easily one of my favorite Bunnymen songs, and is traditionally the last song they play for all live shows.

    And you can’t underestimate The The’s “Kingdom of Rain,” a duet between Matt Johnson and Sinead O’Connor, and a devastating song about love gone bad.

    Otherwise, a good list. And good choice for #1.

  2. Matt Thurston says:

    Shoot, forgot maybe my favorite “rainy day” song, “Save it For a Rainy Day” by The Jayhawks. Love it!!

  3. Kent Pimentel says:

    I agree, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” -CCR should be on this list.

  4. Michael Waterman says:

    Matt,

    Great comments. You should write Top 10 Rain Songs Volume II. I thought long and hard about adding “Rain” by The Cult. I also nearly added “Rain in the Summertime” by The Alarm. I’m with you on banishing “No Rain” and “November Rain.” I never liked either of those songs. I can’t believe I forgot “Ocean Rain.” Definitely one for your list.

  5. mik says:

    I second Matt’s nomination of Garbage–if only to give your list some much-needed sex appeal (not that Neil Sedaka ain’t an incredible hunk o’ man). This performance from the MTV Movie Awards was pretty much the moment I decided I was in love with Shirley Manson:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UgPzlRqlB4

  6. Nice list!! Love the unexpected No. 1, but in my book it’s tough to beat “Rain King” by the CCs… Hey, I just posted my own rain/flood song. Check it out here: http:www.christopherave.wordpress.com

  7. Michael Waterman says:

    Mik,

    I wish I would have seen this video BEFORE I made my list. Great performance.

  8. Michael Waterman says:

    Kent,

    I loved CCR in high school but they haven’t really grown with me. But I will reconsider and listen to “Have you ever seen the rain” tonight to see if my opinion can be swayed.

  9. Valuable information and excellent design you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the stuff you post!! Thumbs up!

  10. Jess says:

    Love Reign O’er Me by The Who. Far and away the best rain song ever.

  11. Michael Waterman says:

    Jess,

    Great suggestion. Surprised I missed that one.
    MIchael

  12. hm insulators says:

    Of the two rain songs that Creedence had a hit with, I’ve always liked “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” Unfortunately, the last time I played “Cosmos’ Factory” (one of my favorite non-metal albums), the record split (never had that happen before) and became unplayable.

    Another vote for “The Rain Song” here. “Another Rainy Night Without You” by Queensryche shows up on the same album (“Empire”) as “Silent Lucidity.” And of course “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio as well as another Dio song, “Naked in the Rain.”

  13. hm insulators says:

    Two songs about crying and rain just popped into my head: “Crying in the Rain” by Whitesnake (the opening cut on their 1987 eponymous album) and “Tears in the Rain” by Triumph. Neither song was the finest moment for their respective groups (“Tears…” isn’t bad), but a couple to add to a growing list of rain songs, both famous and obscure. As Morton Salt puts it, “When it rains, it pours.”

  14. Michael Waterman says:

    I’ve never heard of a record splitting either. I’ve broken them in half. I’ve launched them through the air like a Frisbee. But I can’t imagine a record splitting in half. You must have played the Creedence record to death!

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