Thursday, July 28, 2011

Six Song Six-Pack - Let It Rain

Chicagoans once again woke up this morning to puddles, blinking stoplights and alarm clocks flashing 12:00 as last night’s thunderstorms made this our wettest July on record. Assuming you have power, On Warmer Music has your back with six songs about rain to make your day a little better.

The Very Best are comprised of English DJ Radioclit and the African singer Esau Mwamwaya. They’re perfect summer music with danceable, poppy hooks combined with booty-shakin’ beats. This is off their debut album, The Warm Heart Of Africa and features not only everyone’s favorite agit-pop controversy diva, M.I.A. but a great rainstick intro, which I’m a sucker for.
They've also got some free mixtapes worth checking out.

2. Have You Ever Seen The Rain? [Creedence Clearwater Revival] - Minutemen Buy 3-Way Tie For Last.
The Minutemen may have been best known for brief, arty songs that fused jazz and punk, but songwriters D. Boon and Mike Watt were always quick to admit that their favorite band was CCR. This cover was on their final album before D. Boon’s death and shows just how poppy this band could be when they wanted to throw you a curveball.
It’s sad that most people know Randy Newman as a caricature writing songs for Disney soundtracks, because he’s one of the least-heralded great American songwriters to come out of the 60’s. In perhaps his earliest “hit,” he uses a measured pace and simple lyrics convey the sense of morbid ennui that grey skies can bring. “Bright before me, signs implore me / help the needy and show them the way / human kindness is overflowing / and I think it’s gonna rain today.”
A textbook example of pop being “happy songs about sad subjects,” this song is pre-Beatles US pop at its best. It’s got everything, petulant, sad teenage lyrics, an even sadder middle eight and sappy strings. If that weren’t enough, the violins in this song are plucked just so to produce the perfect “rain drop” effect. Not only a rain song but a summer song to boot.

5. Happy When It Rains - The Jesus & Mary Chain  Buy 21 Singles.
Speaking of weepy teenage lyrics, how about the Jesus & Mary Chain? J&MC can wear on my nerves when they veer too far into noise rock but 21 Singles is worth every penny for classic songs such as this one. "Happy When It Rains" is a memorial to emo girls everywhere with words such as "black", "vampire", "darkness" and, of course "rain" sprinkled liberally throughout the song. The best way to memorialize such a girl? Celebrate the rain, of course! As a child who used to savor the grey days that Chicago is so blessed with, I've always had a soft spot for this song.

6. Rain – The Beatles  Buy Past Masters Vol. 2.

Where else can you end but with the Beatles? "Rain" was written during a period of mind-boggling creative fertility for the Fab Four starting with "We Can Work It Out / Daytripper" and ending with Revolver. As it was, a song that would have made the career of most bands, one of Rolling Stone's greatest songs of all time, was relegated to the B-Side of "Paperback Writer." But what a song it was, with Paul's supple and bubbly base under girding the some of the best psychedelic guitar work ever committed to tape. John's hazy lyrics are well-matched as the song seems to shimmer and fade in and out, ending with the famous backwards guitar solo and outro. "Raaaaain / I don't mind / shiiiine / the weather's fine" - quite the state of mind, indeed.


  1. Some good picks! On the darker side, Riders on the Storm should be on there- also, Tupelo by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Make it Rain by Tom Waits.

  2. Can't go wrong with Cash. Both Cave and Waits are people who I feel like I should know more than I few songs from but I've never gotten around to.

  3. "Rainslicker" by Josh Ritter. Although that whole album is very spring rain, not summer storm.

  4. Yeah, that's the thing about the six-pack, you leave off as much good stuff as you include. Perhaps a part deux could be arranged?

  5. Nah, it's your personal set of songs. I was just adding one that I'd put on MY list.