I Don’t Love a Rainy Night

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(Pictured: Eddie Rabbitt, 1981.)

Forty years ago this week, Eddie Rabbitt hit #1 on the Hot 100 with “I Love a Rainy Night.” It’s got to be one of the more unlikely #1 hits ever. Why it resonated with people is hard for me to explain: it’s just one of those records that caught a particular updraft at a particular moment. Similarly hard for me to explain is why I dislike “I Love a Rainy Night.” It’s super-catchy and it sounds good on the radio. I like Eddie Rabbitt fine on his other big pop crossovers like “Suspicions” and “Drivin’ My Life Away.” But I don’t like “I Love a Rainy Night” and I never have, and it’s just one of those things about myself that I (and you) have to accept.

Last weekend, I asked people on Twitter to name a record for which they have an irrational dislike. While I didn’t go viral or anything, I got a few responses, which I will annotate below.

“Lady”/Kenny Rogers
“Endless Love”/Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
“Lady” is one of those songs you played on the air for the first time and thought, “Oh, god, we’re going to be playing this every two hours for the next six months,” and that’s pretty much how it happened. I don’t think my own dislike for “Endless Love” is especially irrational. It’s terminally bland, and while the label says it runs 4:36, it feels like 10 minutes to me.

“You Light Up My Life”/Debby Boone. Lots of people would tell you that disliking “You Light Up My Life” isn’t irrational at all—that it’s one of the most hate-worthy hits of all time. But it barely seems worth the effort now, considering how it’s been disappeared from pop-music history, as if we’ve repressed just how popular it was at the end of 1977.

“That’s All”/Genesis. I have never minded this myself, but I can see how somebody might. It takes four minutes to not do very much.

“Fields of Gold”/Sting
“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”/Police
Music history is full of artists who needed the leavening influence of collaborators to keep them from getting lost up their own external orifice: Lennon/McCartney and Henley/Frey are merely the most famous. To the extent that the Police were ever punk, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland must have been responsible. Sting’s solo work is as punk-opposite as the Captain and Tennille. A lot of it sounds like it was produced in a biologically secure lab; some of it sounds like it was made with no human involvement at all.

Somebody chimed in to defend “Fields of Gold” as “noble and nostalgic.” I can understand how a person might hear it that way. But when I listen to it,  I feel nothing one way or the other.

“Stand”/R.E.M. There are handful of critically acclaimed performers whose work moves me not at all, to the point at which friends who are fans cannot imagine how it could be so. Elvis Costello is the biggest, but R.E.M. is another. That doesn’t make critics and fans wrong. It’s just don’t hear it.

“Anything by Yes, but especially The Yes Album and Tales of a Boring Ocean.” I love that the original 70s Yes existed, as a testimonial to the combined power of virtuoso musicianship, esoteric philosophy, and recreational drugs. And I love that Tales From Topographic Oceans exists for the same reason, although I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single second of it. The Yes Album strikes me as fine, though. I will always crank the opening of “Yours Is No Disgrace,” and “Starship Trooper” scratches the same itch in me that Emerson Lake and Palmer did. But yeah, I never need to hear “I’ve Seen All Good People” again.

“Anything with Michael McDonald singing lead.” Welp, that’s certainly an opinion all right.

Your irrational dislikes are welcome below. Not hatred with the red-hot fire of a thousand suns, but just dislike, with extra points if you don’t have a reason. The readership has done a fabulous job of elevating the level of the discourse here in the last few months. I am expecting big things outta you guys this time.

Programming Note: 1991 seems to me like it should be maybe six or seven years ago, but I’m told it’s been longer than that. We’ll spend all of next week in 1991, so stop back.

16 thoughts on “I Don’t Love a Rainy Night

  1. TN

    It should be no surprise that a lot of these records are from 1981. If 1981 disappeared into a wormhole, no one would miss it.

    Despite the fact that I’m a noted softy for soft rock, I’d be fine with never hearing anything again from Ambrosia, the blandest band in the land.

    1. John C

      Sometimes I regret listening as much to the army of “reactors” on YouTube as I do but a somewhat surprising finding is that these benighted souls, who have never even heard of much less actually listened to, say, The Beatles, are massively impressed by a lot of what their elders would label pop music dross. Yes, these people could actually play their own instruments and didn’t need autotune! They marvel at that level of professional musicianship much as cable TV viewers endlessly ponder the mystery of how the Egyptians built the pyramids.

      1. mikehagerty

        Reaction videos are having a moment in the pandemic, aren’t they? Most end up disappointing me, but the two college guys (also musicians) Andy and Alex are generally pretty good. They’re in their early 20s. I also enjoy, especially for his positive energy, Jamel aka Jamal. He’s 40, which just goes to show hold old the music (and by extension, we) really are.

  2. I had a lousy March 1991, so I might or might not show up this coming week.

    Irrational dislikes? I got a couple for ya:
    – “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” is just stupid.
    – So is “The Mighty Quinn.”
    – I guess I don’t intensely dislike “I Can Help” but I have no understanding of why it got so popular.
    – Jefferson Starship’s “Jane” – so big, so stoopid; what happened to the weird old Starplane? (There’s a clip of JS playing this song on TV with Kantner in leather pants and that about says it all.)
    – “Minute by Minute” by the Doobie Brothers; I should love this as a prime slice of Mellow but I don’t, really.
    Could probably come up with more but it wouldn’t do anybody any good.

    Points for admitting you’ve never heard Tales from Topographic Oceans. I think that record gets at least 90 percent of its public disses from people who haven’t heard more than five minutes of it, if any at all.

  3. You just have to put “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle on the list. It’s overplayed by oldies stations and is just a plain stupid song.

    For those of us that did classic rock radio in the 70’s and 80’s, don’t forget cringing when the phone rang and you heard “Will you play “Free Bird”?

  4. Never cared for “Love Touch” by Rod Stewart. It was a hit in 1986. Was this about the time Rod Stewart started mailing it in? As for Michael McDonald, I kinda liked “Sweet Freedom” which also was a hit from 1986. I still blame him for turning the Doobie Brothers into a wimp band. I also blame Dennis DeYoung for trying to make Styx into a Broadway musical act.

  5. When I first heard “Endless Love” in 1981, it was like being forced to eat a large bowl of sugar cubes bathed in corn syrup. The fact it was associated with a crappy Brooke Shields movie didn’t add anything either. I also rank it the second most disappointing superstar collaboration in pop music history (the most disappointing, incidentally, would be released the following year).

  6. T.

    “Old Time Rock & Roll” by Bob Seger. He’s singing about how much he loves old rock, but the song doesn’t sound like old rock. It’s thuddy, boring early 80’s rock. I don’t know what old rock & roll he’s talking about: 50’s? 60’s? 1978?

    1. Wesley

      I second this. The repeated rapid-fire declining eight notes at the start alone automatically make me turn the sound down, turn the channel, or turn the radio off, depending on my mood. I like most of Seger’s hits, but he just sounds like a yelling run-of-the-mill bar singer here.

      I also agree with John Gallagher on “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” which inspires similar reactions by me as did “Old Time Rock & Roll.” And man, Charlie Gamble, you brought back nightmares of my college years in the 1980s in North Carolina hearing “Free Bird” way too often. I curse whoever came up with the idea of “Let’s do a riff off the word ‘change’ as often as possible.”

      Two others I’d like to add. In the Seger category of artists I generally like except for one hit, “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night comes to mind. Bad enough to begin a song with a sound like a calliope, but to end one with it slowed down as well? Ecch. The group usually had astute choices in songs submitted to it, but this last top 10 hit arguably hastened Three Dog Night’s commercial demise.

      As far as one hit wonders go, “In the Year 2525” makes my skin crawl from the nasal vocal to the tacky arrangement to the nihilistic viewpoint. If man is still alive in that year, it won’t be from listening to this dreck.

    2. The context of when the song came out plays a major role. In 1978, disco seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut that was going to make rock ‘n’ roll as culturally relevant as Lawrence Welk. Within a couple of years though, it was disco that was culturally irrelevant as rock got another lease on life.

      1. I had to keep my original piece to a manageable length, but I thought about context while I was writing it. Certain songs in certain seasons inspire certain reactions, good and bad. Winter/spring of 1981, if I dig into it in my head, was not an especially good time in my life, and that probably has something to do with my reaction not just to “I Love a Rainy Night’ but other big songs of the time. (For example, I can’t imagine affirmatively wanting to hear “The Best of Times” by Styx again.)

        But the main point of my original post and the original tweet that inspired it is the idea that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s apathy. I’m not turning off “I Love a Rainy Night” if it comes on, but I’m not looking it up on YouTube to hear it, either.

  7. John Gallagher

    “I’m Not Lisa”
    “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast.”

    A tie for number 1 as the two worst songs ever recorded. I can tolerate Debbie Boone, and yes, I know, I’m probably the only human on earth that can.

  8. Jake

    In the classics category, Hotel California makes me dive for the tuning knob every time and has since I was a kid.

    The song I have hated irrationally since the first time I heard it was ‘Touch It’ by Monifah. It’s boilerplate 90s R&B but it still makes me extremely angry whenever it shows up on 90s on 9 (which is thankfully not often).

  9. I hate, hate, hate anything with Michael McDonald on lead vocals. I just can’t stand him. How about Paul Anka’s “Having My Baby.” Oh wait, that’s not irrational. Anyone with a functioning brain needs to hate that song.

  10. mikehagerty

    Irrationally? No. I think I have a damn good reason for everyone, including several already listed here, plus “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins, everything by Air Supply except “Lost In Love” and Charlene’s “I’ve Never Been To Me”.

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