Need a rainy song to brighten up your day? Just remember, folks, human life couldn’t exist without rain. And when areas have droughts, what are they desperately hoping for? Here are some of the best songs with “rain” in the title.
“Rain” by the Beatles. A good place to start is a song with just the single word “rain” in the title, and what better one than the psychedelic sounds of the Beatles from 1966? This was one of their songs strong enough to be an A side, but found its way onto the B side of “Paperback Writer,” a number one song. “Rain” showcased the Beatles embrace of studio sounds and techniques that could not be replicated at onstage live performances. Innovations on this song included one of the first uses of backward taping. “When it rains and shines, it’s just a state of mind,” is a line from the song.
“Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters. This song reached number two on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1971. Both lyrically and instrumentally the song has a lugubrious quality to it. The texture of Karen Carpenter’s voice was perfect for singing this kind of song. “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down,” concludes the song.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. At first it was speculated that the lyrics were about the Vietnam War. John Fogerty, the lead singer of the group and writer of most of its songs, including this one, never confirmed the words were about bombs dropping during the unpopular war. In fact he said it had more to do with friction in the group and his brother Tom about to split from the band. CCR couldn’t seem to leave the rain question alone. They also had an earlier number two hit with “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” by B.J. Thomas. A Burt Bacharach-Hal David tune for the soundtrack “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” was a number one song for B.J. Thomas in 1970. In fact it was the biggest single of the year. The song also won the Academy Award for Best Song, according to “The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits.”
“Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. Many of us were first introduced to James Taylor when he took “Fire and Rain” to number three on the “Billboard” singles chart in the fall of 1970. There were conflicting theories as to what this folk-rock tune was about, but Taylor himself later indicated it was about a friend’s suicide and his own struggles to overcome drug addiction and depression.
“Purple Rain” by Prince and the Revolution. As the title song from a soundtrack album that was number one for 24 weeks in 1984, “Purple Rain” as a single reached number two on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart. Two other songs from the “Purple Rain” soundtrack album reached number one: “When Doves Cry,” which was the song of the year, and “Let’s Go Crazy.”
“Let It Rain” by Eric Clapton. As in “Layla” and many of Clapton’s songs, his incredible guitar playing takes priority over the lyrics. This is one of Eric’s most inspired efforts.
Rain to hide tears. The following three songs are about men with broken hearts from the breakup of a relationship. They all want to go outside in the rain so that raindrops can mask and hide their teardrops and no one will notice them crying. After all, men aren’t supposed to cry.
“Crying in the Rain” by the Everly Brothers.
“In the Rain” by the Dramatics. This was a number one R&B song.
“I Wish it Would Rain” by the Temptations. This too was a number one R&B song.
Honorable mention. There are of course many other rain songs. A few that come to mind immediately are “Rain on the Roof” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, “I Love A Rainy Night,” a number one “Billboard” Hot 100 single by Eddie Rabbit, “Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers, “Baby the Rain Must Fall” by Glenn Yarbrough, “Rhythm of the Rain” by the Cascades, “The Rain, the Park & Other Things” by the Cowsills, and “Walking in the Rain” by both the Ronettes and Jay & the Americans. This list admittedly has a generational bias, and more recent rain songs are meant for another list.
Related articles: Ten Songs that Define Rock and Roll
Beatles Top 10 Songs From Their Post-Beatles Careers
Top 10 Beatles B Sides, a Fan’s Take
“The Complete Beatles Lyrics,” Hal Leonard Corporation, Omnibus Press, 1982
“A Hard Day’s Write, the stories behind every Beatles’ song,” Steve Turner, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1994
“The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 9th Edition,” Joel Whitburn, Billboard Books, 2010
“The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, 5th Edition,” Fred Bronson, Billboard Books, 2003
“The Billboard Book of Number One Albums,” Craig Rosen, Billboard Books, 1996