Rain is not for everyone, as it sometimes makes people sad. However, rain brings water, the stuff of life, and we all have had moments of pure joy in the rain, no doubt. Sometimes, there is nothing better than just standing in the rain and letting the drops fall on you from up on high. Rain cleanses the soul, in a certain sense, in addition to the air we breathe.
It is an obvious connection to bring music to the equation. Artists for decades have provided us with lyrics about the rain, and we have compiled a solid list of classic, favorite, and underrated songs here that you can put on a playlist for those rainy days ahead as winter draws to a close and spring starts to take over the skies. Enjoy!
Honorable Mention: "Singin’ in the Rain"
This is more of a classic show tune, but how could we not include this? Gene Kelly and his memorable scene in the film musical Singin' in the Rain is iconic, and most of us have performed this one ourselves when it is raining outside. Of course, few of us have Kelly's voice or dance steps in our repertoire.
This song always was on the more light-hearted side of seriousness, even when it was released, but it is hard to get it out of your head after you hear it ten times or so. This song went to No. 1 back in 1981, so there are a lot of people who heard it a lot more than ten times back in the day. It is time to share it with a new generation of music fans that may not know of its existence. You are welcome, Millennials!
19. The Weather Girls: "It’s Raining Men"
Evidently, this song (co-written by Paul Shaffer) was turned down for recording by Cher, Diana Ross, Barbra Stresiand, and Donna Summer before it became a huge success for The Weather Girls. Well, one woman's trashed song is another woman's treasured hit, right? Sure, it is disco all the way, yet it still is fun to dance today, whether it is raining or not!
A classic in its own right, Dylan wrote this song in 1962 and released it the following year. Its lyrical brilliance has earned it accolades for decades, including the praise of cover versions by artists as varied as Bryan Ferry, Jason Mraz, Robert Plant, and Ann Wilson. Considering this track come from Dylan's second album, it is now working on its sixth decade of popularity. That is tough to top.
In many ways, this song represents the sadness brought about by the rain for many, as it deals with suicide. However, there is a beauty in the lyrics, and the tenderness in Taylor's voice presents a vulnerability to the audience that often has the opposite effect on the listener. It ends up being a rather uplifting and galvanizing song by the end, and we walk away from it seeing the rays of sunshine ahead of us.
16. Alphaville: "Summer Rain"
From a band made famous by some 1980s music, this song is off Alphaville's 1989 album The Breathtaking Blue. It was released as a single in June 1989, and although it failed to chart anywhere in the world, we have it on this list—because it is a beautiful song, lyrically and in terms of rhythm and melody as well. The voice of Marian Gold was never better than it is on this track that could lull us into delirium on a hot summer's night doused with thundershowers.
The video is a time capsule from the mid-1980s, and yet the song still has resonance and relevance in today's modern political climate. The lyrics tell a story that does not have a happy ending, but the imagery in the words remind us all of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath for a newer generation. It also reminds us that rain is necessary for life, doesn't it? So maybe it is not so bad.
14. Albert Hammond: "It Never Rains in Southern California"
Another song that tells a story with a sad ending, there is something nonetheless very endearing about this 1972 song. The title of the track has become a common phrase for people to utter at the opportune moment in the conversation, although in truth, the rain itself has little to do with the story in the song. It is symbolic of rain, as the vocals remind us that life sometimes is not the easiest thing to navigate through in adulthood—especially in Los Angeles.
A lesser-known track off the band's second LP, Reckoning, this song opens with a melodic hook that somewhat feels like rain, in truth. The vocal chorus emphasizes this melody, and suddenly, the song also has a rhythm to it that sounds like rain. Go figure. There is something about the rain as well that makes us all want to apologize for something. It must be that cleansing feeling the water provides.
This song from the early 1970s has a new, official video released in December 2018. How cool is that? Songwriter and vocalist John Fogerty delivers an amazing lyric performance in this song which truly draws out the emotion of the words and the meaning of rain itself for many of us. Interestingly, this song went to No. 1 in Canada, although the band never had a No. 1 hit in the United States—despite registering several hits as high as No. 2 on the charts in America.
When you hear this one for the first time, you never forget it. Perhaps that is why we put it on this list, although there are several other reasons to do so. The lyrics express something we have all asked ourselves: Did we do something to deserve this downpour? "Is it because I lied when I was 17?" may be the best single lyric in this entire list of songs about the rain, in truth.
The live version of this song from her Royal Albert Hall performance won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance, and it is easy to see why when you watch this video. Never have Adele's pipes sounded so good, and this song's beauty just enhances her voice. This is another musical experience that emphasizes the emotional cleansing aspect of rain, and it does so ... so darn well.
Right now, this linked video has just 3,875 views on YouTube, perhaps because it is just an audio track. There is no official video for this 1987 song from the band's second LP, Darklands, but perhaps there should have been. The lyrics are precise; the mood is distinct. The rhythm is constant; the buildup is brilliant. In truth, there may not be a better song on this list than "Nine Million Rainy Days"—but maybe we are wrong.
8. This Picture: "Naked Rain"
This forgotten gem from 1991 got lost in the grunge wave that swept popular music that year. The linked video has just 10,554 views right now, although we expect that to change after you read this. Perhaps one of the more uplifting songs about the rain we know of, the track is constructed with chilling vocals, engaging lyrics, and hypnotizing melodies. It is thought-provoking to think this band was once compared to U2 around the time this song was released.
Speaking of U2, here is another band that once compared to the superstars from Dublin, albeit in the 1980s instead. This track's studio version was released as a single and reached No. 18 in the United Kingdom. This live version takes the song's beauty to a whole new level, however. Vocalist Mike Peters was able to maximize his range and effectiveness in live settings much more effectively than in the studio, and guitarist David Sharp matched him in energy on this recording.
Yes, this song can be depressing, but it is really a message of love—and love always wins in the end (even though the track only reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971). The alto sax solo gives the song a little something special in the middle as the love in the song just grows by the end to the point you may have forgotten the rain. By the way, the song was co-written by a then-unknown Paul Williams.
This nine-minute opus may have been the last hurrah for the band, as GNR never reached such heights again. But oh what a way to peak! This track reached No. 3 on the Billboard chart, and it still is the longest song to ever reach the Top 10. The orchestral element of the song, the emotional lyrical delivery from Axl Rose, and the stirring guitar solos by Slash make this song a tremendous experience for the audience almost 30 years after its release.
The final scene of Prince's quasi-biographical film still gives an audience goosebumps. Even just listening to the track today, the emotive experience delivered by Prince and the Revolution is stunning. While the vocals are just amazing and Prince's guitar playing is stellar, it is hard to overlook the contributions here of keyboardist Lisa Coleman and rhythm guitarist Wendy Melvoin—and not just the film versions of those women, either. Coleman's keyboard coda, especially, is beautiful.
In the opening melodies you can hear the rain, almost literally, and in Clapton's own mix of this song, the vocal effects are perfect. It is hard to believe it took him so long to go solo after his 1960s stints as perhaps the ultimate guitarist of the early rock era. A brief keyboard solo by Stephen Stills in the middle of the song echoes the sound of rain, too. Clapton co-wrote this song with Bonnie Bramlett, and they did a wonderful job with it. The song still sounds fresh, like the rain, today.
The composition of this song, the opening track of Gabriel's huge LP So, has overtones of the high art-rock genre he helped pioneer in the 1970s with Genesis. But Gabriel's vocals take this song somewhere else for the audience. Close your eyes and let the imagery in the lyrics flow through you, and it is not hard to get lost in the song's melodies and rhythms. This song literally has it all: It's perfect. The emotionally gritty and granular vocals seal the deal from start to finish.
If we had to put together a list of the 20 best songs ever, this might be on that list. Naturally, there is no other place for this amazing track on this list than at the top. The opening hooks should stop you in your tracks wherever you are when you hear this song, and you should not be able to turn away from the speakers. Throw in the voice of Annie Lennox, and it is all over. If you do not like the rain after listening to this gem of a love song, you should not have read this—but just in case, this acoustic version might be better than the original. Dive in.