It’s a chilly, rainy day here in Vancouver, the kind of day that makes you pensive, wistful, melancholy and all those other feelings that are mostly sad, but are also, often, thoughtful and creative. It’s almost as if the rain gets inside you and lubricates the memory, the emotions, and the imagination.
There are a lot of songs about rain, and some of them are pretty corny, pat, or otherwise awful. But I was surprised to find 15 songs in my music library that have “rain” in the title (even excluding ‘songs about rainbows’).
Ten years ago one of my readers, Elselien Epema, visited me and we spent the afternoon in conversation, with my music library playing in the background on ‘random’ mode. Afterwards she remarked to me “Why are all the songs you like so sad?” I was surprised; it had never occurred to me, since it’s a pretty varied and eclectic mix. But I guess she was right. Lots of dance, hard rock and upbeat “world’ music in my playlists, though.
Here are my 12 favourite “rain songs”, and here’s a video playlist of them:
🌧️ See the Sky About to Rain, by Neil Young (solo, live version)
See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain.
Locomotive, pull the train, whistle blowing through my brain.
Signals curling on an open plain, rolling down the track again.
Some are bound for happiness, some are bound to glory.
Some are bound to live with less, who can tell your story?
🌧️ Thoughts on a Rainy Afternoon, by Bruce Cockburn
Rain rings trash can bells; and what do you know
My alley becomes a cathedral.
Eyes can be archways to enter or leave by.
Vacuum’s replaced by a crystal.
Oh Jesus don’t let Toronto take my song away.
It’s easy to love if… you let yourself love it.
But like a moth’s wing it’s easily crushed.
Oh Jesus don’t let tomorrow take my love away.
🌧️ Mandolin Rain, by Bruce Hornsby and the Range
Listen to the mandolin rain, listen to the music on the lake,
Ah, listen to my heart break every time she runs away;
Oh, listen to the banjo wind, a sad song drifting low,
Listen to the tears roll down my face as she turns to go.
🌧️ Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac
Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had, and what you lost
Thunder only happens when it’s raining
Players only love you when they’re playing
Women, they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you’ll know
🌧️ Don’t Always Look at the Rain, by Howard Jones
Some people I know have lost their feel for mystery
They say everything has got to be proved, this isn’t a nursery
And Joseph who’s five years old, stops fights in his playground yard
No more fights and bigotry, oh is it so hard
And it’s oh, don’t always look at the rain
And tell me, is it a crime to have an ideal or two
Evolving takes it’s time, we can’t do it all in one go
Doesn’t have to drive us all mad, we can only do our best
Let the mind shut up, and the heart do the rest
🌧️ The Rain, the Park, and Other Things, by the Cowsills (a capella version)
I saw her sitting in the rain, raindrops falling on her
She didn’t seem to care, she sat there and smiled at me
Then I knew she could make me happy
Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere
I love the flower girl
Oh I don’t know just why, she simply caught my eye
I love the flower girl
She seemed so sweet and kind, she crept into my mind
🌧️ Red Rain, by Peter Gabriel
Red rain is coming down, red rain
Red rain is pouring down, pouring down all over me
Oh-oh, putting the pressure on much harder now
To return again and again
Red rain, just let the red rain splash you
Red rain, let the rain fall on your skin
Red rain, I come to you, defences down
With the trust of a child
🌧️ Rain, by Patty Griffin
Sometimes a hurt is so deep deep deep
You think that you’re gonna drown
Sometimes all I can do is weep weep weep
With all this rain falling down
Strange how hard it rains now
Rows and rows of big dark clouds
When I’m holding on underneath this shroud
🌧️ Let it Rain, by Amanda Marshall
It isn’t easy to be kind
With all these demons in my mind
I only hope one day I’ll be free
I do my best not to complain
My face is dirty from the strain
I only hope one day I’ll come clean
Rain, let it rain on me
Let it rain, oh let it rain, let it rain on me
🌧️ Rain Song, by Led Zeppelin
I felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us,
But I know that I love you so
These are the seasons of emotion
And like the wind, they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion
I see the torch we all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient
Upon us all, upon us all, a little rain must fall
🌧️ Fire and Rain, by James Taylor
Won’t you look down upon on me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me to make a stand
You just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way
Oh, 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 I’d see you again
🌧️ Rainy Night in Georgia, by Brook Benton
How many times I wondered, it still comes out the same
No matter how you look at it or think of it
It’s life and you just got to play the game
Find me a place in a box car
So I take my guitar to pass some time
Late at night when it’s hard to rest
I hold your picture to my chest and I feel fine
But it’s a rainy night in Georgia
Baby, it’s a rainy night in Georgia
Lord, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world
Feels like it’s rainin’ all over the world.
Yeah, pretty sad, I guess.
image by Midjourney AI, which clearly doesn’t think rain is necessarily associated with sadness; not my prompt