Concerto for a Rainy Day

It was a rainy morning today. I had an errand to run, and I took my time getting home. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fond of rainy days. I used to think that sunny days distorted one’s personality, and that people were closer to the way they really are on a rainy day. Now I know there’s no reason why the opposite shouldn’t be true, but as a result, I no longer have an explanation for why I like rainy days. I just do. And because I don’t have a better idea on what has now become a rainy afternoon, here are a few rain songs from my music stash.

“Another Rainy Day in New York City”/Chicago. As close as anybody has come to capturing in music the feel of a sudden shower on an urban afternoon.

“Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”/Fortunes. Maybe this is why I dig rainy days—“Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” is an AM-radio classic on which it would be impossible to improve.

“I Wish It Would Rain”/Temptations. One of the great poetic inventions at Motown, in which a sad guy wishes it would rain so he could go outside and cry, and with a wet face, no one would know. Written by the great Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong along with a writer named Roger Penzabene, who took his feelings of loss from real life. His wife was cheating on him, and while his song was still on the radio, he would commit suicide. Here it is, live on the old Hollywood Palace TV show, in February 1968:

“The Rain Song”/Led Zeppelin. From Houses of the Holy, this might be the coolest and most ambitious thing they ever did, if they’d never done “Stairway to Heaven.” Live performance from 1975 here.

“Raincoat and a Rose”/Chris Rea. From the 1979 album Deltics, which closely followed Rea’s first American hit album, Whatever Happened to Benny Santini?, and its single “Fool (If You Think It’s Over).” It’s not a bad album, but rather than risk branding Rea as a balladeer by releasing “Raincoat and a Rose,” his record company went with the weakest track on the album, “Diamonds,” as the single. Somehow, it got to Number 44, but then it disappeared without a trace, taking the album, and Rea’s American career, with it. He’s continued to make good records ever since, but you’ve got to search them out.

“Standing in the Rain”/Electric Light Orchestra. From Out of the Blue, an album that’s much better than a two-record set has any right to be. “Standin’ in the Rain” is the opening song of “Concerto for a Rainy Day,” four thematically related tunes that take up what was side 3 of the album. It’s also the song the band used as the opener on their 1978 tour. Not that I can remember hearing it or anything.

“Walk Out in the Rain”/Eric Clapton. From Backless, which doesn’t get a lot of love in Clapton’s catalog, but I like it fine. “Walk Out in the Rain” was co-written by Bob Dylan. Live performance from 2004 here.

“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”/Willie Nelson. Written in the 1940s, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” was the first big hit as a singer for Willie Nelson, who had been known mostly as a songwriter. It went to Number One on the country charts (and Number 21 on the Hot 100) in the fall of 1975. Its spare arrangement could have come straight out of the 1940s, and it helped to kickstart the whole Willie-and-Waylon/outlaw country movement of the late 70s. (I’ve got a post about 70s crossover country percolating in my head at the moment, so stay tuned.)

“Rain Dance”/Guess Who. Somebody mentioned this in the comments the other day, I think. I have no idea what it’s about—not rain, I don’t think—but I dig it nevertheless.

“Rainy Night in Georgia”/Brook Benton. And we’re back where we began: as close as anybody has come to capturing the feel of a lingering rainstorm on a lonely night. Here’s Benton—a greatly underrated soul singer—performing it live sometime in the 80s. (Benton died in 1988.)

“Another Rainy Day in New York City”/Chicago (from Chicago X; buy it here)
“Rain Dance”/Guess Who (from So Long, Bannatyne; buy it here)

4 thoughts on “Concerto for a Rainy Day

  1. Rain songs are always a good bet. (The opening riff of “Rainy Night In Georgia” still melts my heart a little.) Of course, I’d take a rainy day instead of the snow I’ll soon have to shovel. Good post!

  2. Miles

    Let me toss out “Rain” by the Beatles, “Rain in the Summertime” by the Alarm and a guilty pleasure of mine, “It’s Raining Again” by Supertramp. I’m a big fan of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, too, so I can’t forget “Buy For Me the Rain”.

  3. JP

    “I Wish It Would Rain” is indeed a good lyric, but this wasn’t the first time somebody would explore that angle…earlier the Everly Brothers walked that same territory with “Crying In The Rain,” which rationalized that “you won’t know the rain from the tears in my eyes.”

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