Blog 24: Music and the weather!
Updated: Nov 20, 2020
It is July, but in the UK right now it feels a bit like summer already happened - in April! Today is stormy - windy, rainy and cold. I started thinking about the song ‘Stormy Weather’, covered by many famous artists, but written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler. Lyricists / lyrics so often use the weather as a metaphor for our emotions, moods and relationships. I started thinking about other weather related songs and, unsurprisingly, could think of dozens just off the top of my head! There must be hundreds! All weather conditions are written about - and for any variation we are given a choice of emotions to attach. Some well known and well loved choices follow. I am naming the writer(s) rather than the often brilliant (and often better known) performers of the songs. Sometimes they are one and the same of course, but it is the writing that gives rise to the story and gives us melodies which express virtually any mood that we can all associate with in some way.
Here are just a few examples of songs about rain, storm, snow and sun... Starting with songs about the RAIN - ‘It Might As Well Rain Until September’ Carole King & Gerry Goffin, ‘Raining In My Heart’ Felice Bryant & Boudleaux Bryant, ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ Ann Peebles, Bernard Miller & Don Bryant, ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ Roger Nichols & Paul Williams, ‘A Rainy Night In Georgia’ Tony Joe White - all of which mirror us pining for a lost love or just plain feeling down. At the same time there are joyful RAIN songs ‘It’s Raining Men’ Paul Shaffer & Paul Jabara and ‘Walking In The Rain’ Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil & Barry Mann - so there’s a turn up! STORMS increase the drama - ‘Riders On The Storm’ Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore & Robby Krieger and ‘Shelter From The Storm’ Bob Dylan. Again - the weather is the metaphor, the setting, the feeling. SNOW can express mysterious, romantic, melancholy visions, like ‘Winter Hymnal’ Robin Noel Pecknold, ‘Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)’ Laura Marling, ‘Winter’ Tori Amos. Romantic songs like ‘I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm’ Irving Berlin & Earl Brown, or ’Let It Snow’ Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne or ‘Winter Wonderland’ Felix Bernard & Richard B. Smith give us a sense of joy, comfort and optimism. Of course ‘SNOW’ doesn’t always mean icy white snowflakes. For instance ‘Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow’ Nick Cave or ‘Snow (hey-oh)’ John Frussciante, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith & Flea, talk of snow but are actually about other things - drugs, religion, Cold War.... SUNSHINE can assume we are light, bright and cheerful and having a wonderful time ‘Walking On Sunshine’ Kimberley Rew, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ George Harrison, or, conversely, that the sun makes it worse like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ Bill Withers & J.J. Johnson. Closer to home, I have even co-written song myself with Chris White called ‘Rain’ - that’s about hope, and of course The Zombies have that wonderful song ‘Walking In The Sun’ written by Rod Argent, about lovers. Weather is all around us - we are in it - and it can’t help but make us feel something. That must be why it is such a good metaphor for our human emotions. These songs are just the top of the proverbial iceberg I know - but it got me reading lyrics again for the first time in a long time, whilst listening. Good distraction! Good meditation! I wish you all a happy August to come - whatever the weather and whatever the song.