‘I’m siiiiinging in the raaaaaain….’ Everybody knows the tune made legendary by Gene Kelly. That’s why I’m leaving it out of this playlist, though many of the titles in this selection will bring back good memories. The rain doesn’t only make things hazy – it carries clouds of sound along with it. As we can hear in the song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” the rain is in fact a good omen! This theme, which accompanies Paul Newman’s cycling scene in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, bears the mark of the goldsmith Burt Bacharach. It’s a simple ditty that won a Grammy in 1970. And it isn’t the only classic on this theme: “La Pioggia”, a popular Italian folk song where it rains strings is another, as is “Les Eaux de Mars”, here in an Italian version sung by the timeless Mina.
Rain-soaked classics are undoubtedly less numerous than those celebrating the sun, but there are still some famous ones, which you can hear here: “Purple Rain”, Prince’s signature tune; “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by the Creedence Clearwater Revival in the early 1970s; Ann Peebles’ soulful hymn composed by her future husband, Don Bryant; and in a more bluesy vein Ray Charles’ “Come Rain Or Come Shine” – not far from being just as timeless as “Georgia On My Mind”. In the French version, on one of his best albums, Claude Nougaro plays with words when singing about this source of inspiration. ‘La pluie fait des tapettes, sur le trottoir à minuit... Et m'embrasse dans la flaque d'un soleil à l'envers!’ Sticking with the 1960s but this time on the other side of the Atlantic and on a less cheerful note, Jorge Ben released “Chove Chuva”, one of his first huge classics in a samba soul style, a song he wouldn’t stop playing throughout his entire prolific career. Last but not least, “The Gentle Rain” by aesthete bossa guitarist Luiz Bonfa (who wrote the samba album A Chova Caiu) has been covered many times. Here I’ve included the original with Eumir Deodato and some subtle string arrangements.
Bob Dylan, Karen Dalton, the Temptations, Esther Walker – the rain in music covers a blend of folk and soul blues tones. We can even hear the bandoneon on Argentinian Astor Piazzolla’s condemnation of oppression. And let’s not forget some jazz – “Here’s That Rainy Day” with its surge of melancholy by Freddie Hubbard, or “Rain Dance”, the visionary introduction to Herbie Hancock’s Sextant, an album that, at the turn of the 1970s, pointed to a new direction and heralded in the electronic era. In the same year, followers of krautrock CAN succeeded in combining melodic beauty and experimentation with “She Brings The Rain”, which would appear more than three decades later on the soundtrack for Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story. Thought I haven’t included Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”, I couldn't help but slip in a few hip-hop tracks, the crazy smooth Action Bronson and the powerful Mac Miller, who left us far too early, and in a state of eternal heartbreak. As Daniel Darc puts it, ‘Les regrets, ça va droit au cœur, et ça y reste jusqu’à qu’on meurt.’ (Regret goes straight to the heart, and it stays there until you die).