A flood of rainy day songs for Sonoma County

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Whenever the weather turns rainy, stormy, flood-threatening and otherwise wet, we all find our own ways of coping, from stepping outside and running through puddles or complaining loudly to anyone who will listen, to simply holing up in a warm corner with a hot drink and a good book.

(We suggest Niall Williams’ “History of the Rain.” It’s about Ireland. By comparison, we’re a lot dryer than Ireland, on average, anyway).

The point is, people employ an array of different approaches to dealing with stormy weather.

A good one – which dovetails nicely with almost all of the above activities – is making and listening to a personalized rainy day playlist.

You can even title it Rainy Day Playlist. Just to make finding it easier when you need it.

There are, of course, a number of approaches to such a project.

Some prefer assembling a group of songs that deal directly with topics of rain and bad weather. Others enjoy the challenge of listing songs designed to distract one from thinking about the weather at all.

We like the direct approach: songs about rain.

To help you, um, brainstorm up your own list, here are ten great weather-related songs you might want to consider putting on your very own Rainy Day Playlist. Some are old, some are new, some barely mention rain but still somehow fit the bill.

Whether you simply watch these videos and end up singing along with a few appropriately stormy tunes, or actually take some notes and build your own playlist to listen to in the rain our in a warm house, we wish you a safe and melody-filled atmospheric river.

Or two. Or three.

The rain could be with us for quite a few more days.

Stay dry, and keep humming.

STORMY WEATHER – Billie Holiday

The delectably bluesy 1933 torch song by Harold Arlan and Ted Koehler was first introduced at the Cotton Club, in Harlem, but within a few years had been covered by countless artists. One of the most indelible recordings of the song is this one by Billie Holiday, in 1955. As is often the case with Rainy Day Songs, the lovely, wistful melody runs counter to the aggressively bleak starkness of lyrics like, “Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere, stormy weather. Just can’t get my poor self together. I’m weary all the time, the time, so weary all the time.” Never has such a bad mood sounded so good, so good.


The gorgeously melancholy 1983 hit from British pop duo Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart) is perfect for singing in a rainstorm, especially if you focus on the weirdly bouncy background “bob-she-bop” vocals. Is it raining with you? Yes. Yes it is.


Very few songs have so much fun with the subject of rainy weather as Eddie Rabbit’s upbeat 1980 charmer in which the country rocker claims, “I love to hear the thunder, watch the lightnin’ when it lights up the sky. You know it makes me feel good! Showers wash all my cares away … I wake up to a sunny day.”


The title song from Prince’s hit 1984 movie, “Purple Rain” was originally conceived of as a country western song. Prince (his real first name, though for a short time as a child he reportedly asked friends to call him Skipper) intended to record the song as a duet with Stevie Nicks, and even approached her about writing lyrics to the melody, which came first. When she declined, saying it scared her too much, Prince composed the song with members of his band, then kept it for himself and eventually built his debut movie around it. Thrillingly emotional, sad and triumphant all at once, listening to “Purple Rain” really does make a rainy day go down better, though you could end up truly, madly and deeply missing Prince - the artist formerly known as Skipper – by the time the song is over.

RED RAIN – Peter Gabriel

If the apocalypse had a theme song, Peter Gabriel’s 1986 anthem “Red Rain” could be it. Purportedly inspired by a recurring dream Gabriel had, the song is heavily percussive and sounds better the louder it’s played, as if daring people to sing it at the top of their lungs while dancing like mad in the middle of the street in a pouring rainstorm. If you try that, please shoot video.


Yes, technically, this is not a rain song. It’s a rainbow song. Rain is never mentioned and clouds are only mentioned twice. Who cares? It’s a great song, and this original version, from the 1938 movie, is still the best.

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW – Israel “Iz” Kamakawiwo’ole

There are some who actually prefer the late Kamakawiwo’ole’s Hawaiian-tinged, ukulele version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and who can blame them? It’s beautiful, and sweet, and sad, and everything else you might want to feel as you sing along on a rainy day. Even if it’s not actually about a rainy day.


Written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, in 1929, it was a hit long before the movie of the same name pushed it to stellar heights of popularity. There are few among us who has not, at some point in their lives, attempted at least a few of Gene Kelly’s famous dance steps in an actual rainstorm?


Another one of those songs that is both bouncily pleasant and filled with a moody downpour of lyrics proclaiming a deep sense of gloom. “Sunny day, where have you gone?” Oddly. The chorus with its repetition of the question “Why does it always rain on me?” and the line, “Even when the sun is shining, I can’t avoid the lightning,” has a way of making a person feel a little bit better - sad, wet or otherwise.


Speaking of feeling good when you feel so bad, the 1995 song “Only Happy When It Rains,” by rock-punk band Garbage, is another one of those that was made to sing out loud when times are dark, clouds are thick, and the rain won’t stop. With lyrics like, “Pour your misery down, pour your misery down on me, I’m only happy when it rains. I feel good when things are goin’ wrong, I only listen to the sad, sad songs, I’m only happy when it rains,” the smile-inducing anthem is set to a driving, in-your-face beat that propels’ lead singer Shirley Manson’s gleefully surly vocals further forward on a wave of individualistic, silver-lining-finding freedom and, yes, a powerful dose of rainy day joy.

So there you go. Ten songs to put on your own Rainy Day Playlist.

Or at least to get you thinking.

This is just the tip of the melting iceberg, of course. Other sensible choices for your Rainy Day Playlist could possibly include the following:

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – B.J. Thomas

Rainy Night in Soho – The Pogues

Rainy Days and Mondays – The Carpenters

Come Rain or Come Shine – Ray Charles

Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan

Umbrella – Rhianna

Who’ll Stop the Rain? – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain – Willy Nelson

I Can’t Stand the Rain – Tina Turner

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