Listen to the Rain

Although today is sunny, the last few have been filled with thunderstorms, downpours, and mere sprinklings. The rain has always been special to me. While others love sunny days, I often hope for rain, even when there is no drought. Standing in an open field as the hard, cold rain splashes in your face is life-affirming.

Sitting inside while raindrops hit the roof can't be beat either. We tend to take these situations for granted, remaining in our bubbles, unaware of how important the rain really is. It revitalizes the earth. It revitalizes our spirits, perhaps promising escape from our daily lives. When the sun finally comes out, we are refreshed. We are ready to open our eyes.

In honor of the rain that never comes (or comes too often, depending on your opinion), I compiled a short list of my favorite rain songs. I hope to expand and revise this list, as I discover new songs, and as I come to terms with my conflicting feelings about the rain.

1). Whiskeytown  "Sit and Listen to the Rain" From the first strummed acoustic notes of the song, Whiskeytown aptly traces the effects of the rain. The narrator "sits and listens to the rain" as he questions the direction of his life and contemplates the future. Like many of Ryan Adams' songs, it defines a crossroads between the past and the future, sprinkled with moments of thoughtful contemplation. The universality of the verses reaches to the chorus as he sings: "I’ll never understand this emptiness / I’ll never really try and understand, I guess." Cymbals clash and female vocals respond as Adams reaches an empty conclusion: "Sit around, dream away the place I’m from / Used to feel so much, now I just feel dumb." Lyrics like these are not necessarily hopeless. They point to a sense of future hope and the anticipation of change, just the sort of thoughts that often come to mind, while listening to the rain.

2). Beth Orton  "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine" Orton captures the sense of loss that comes with breakups in her rendition of the Brill Building classic that was originally done by the Ronettes. Her plaintive vocals, underscored by quiet guitar chords, bring a sense of yearning to the song not found in the original, as she sings ""I wish I never saw the sunshine / And if I never saw the sunshine baby /Then maybe...I wouldn't mind the rain." Yet there is hope in her version. The lyrics ring impossibly true and her throaty vocals capture the essence of love lost, if not just a day spent avoiding the rain. 

3). Tripping Daisy "Raindrop" One of the more upbeat songs, at least musically, on this list, "Raindrop" is a poppy psychedelic wonder. While more on the order of trippy Beatles psych, and less 13th Floor Elevators/Red Krayola, the song bounces along with an almost certain powerpop flare.Yet its lyrics are more thoughtful than the average Tripping Daisy song. They wouldn't seem out of place on a Polyphonic Spree album, as Tim DeLaughter focuses his attention on creating more of a straightforward psychpop song than the usual deranged lyrical bent of Tripping Daisy. The lyrics are quite simple. Lines such as "I feel it around me/ I feel like a raindrop/I feel, we're all washed out / burnt out I think,/ it's a shame" bleed into a chorus of "Insecurity" followed by "Insecure"  that more concretely captures our doubts.

4). Damien Jurado  "Window" In this folk/gospel tune by one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Jurado rewrites the classic trope of reuniting with one's loved ones in heaven. The song's understated charm and female accompaniment make it an excellent rainy day song about life's possibilities. As Jurado sings "I am looking at a beautiful window / The window is your eyes / O, the only time i saw rainfall /Was the day your mother died," you can't help but feel transported beyond commonplace daily concerns.


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