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B86 Issue 3: Rain

It’s funny how here in California, there’s news of oncoming rain every week. Tomorrow, this weekend, the newscaster says, but it never arrives. In Berlin, I once heard someone say, “It never rains in California.” That’s a lie; it’s gloomy here, foggier than ever. I’m still waiting for the rain to come this year. Still waiting for you to come around.

It rained maybe once last November when I started learning to drive, but only a few lazy raindrops before sunshine returned. Smelling petrichor out the window brought a sense of calmness. Rain always does. 

Happy New Year, anyway! I’ve picked an overcast playlist of songs, all about rain and winter to complement the dreary weather. Sometimes rain indicates beginnings, renewal, and a sense of relief; however, with every new beginning, comes an end to all things. Here are songs to listen to next time it rains.  I’ll think about you next time it does. Enjoy, with or without an umbrella!

Let’s welcome the rain with the fitting “Hello Rain” track from The Softies’ album It’s Love. The soft strumming and vocals––almost like whispers––bring the listener a bout of melancholy. The narrator ruminates on a relationship she recently left behind. She looks back on memories they shared: “Reading letters from you for the last time.” She claims to have wasted all her wishes on her ex-lover. The song is riddled with poetically charming imagery: “I made a paper boat and watched it going down the drain.” The rain—in her case—stands in as a metaphor for the tears to follow: “Goodbye, wishing you well and hello rain.”

Of course, The Field Mice love documenting each phase of a relationship. A fitting backdrop completes their lament––an empty train station. There’s a sense the narrator has been waiting for his ex-lover to return and is only now beginning to let go of that delusion; “Killing time on / London Bridge / before catching the last train home, / The last train home.” The emphasis on the “last train home” can mean he has delayed his return to reality for quite a while now. He’s soaking up every last second of “sharing spring, evening kisses” and “her perfumed body, oiled.” All that’s left now is an “empty station, a wrong turn and raindrops.” Let it rain, let the heavens cry alongside you. “She’s no longer here— / She’s gone.”

This upbeat, jangly song by The Popguns is all about fresh starts. The singer’s bitterness toward the recipient is clear throughout as she discusses their breakup: “And now I’m waiting for the winter / Hoping for the rain / I wanna just forget you / And start my life again.” Though this is definitely an angry outcry, the singer tries to reassure herself of her strength as well. She sings, “I am changing / I am harder / I am bitter / To the bone.” She wants her ex to know she’s less naïve, but keeps seeing his face; nevertheless, she waits for winter to escape any sight of him. “Got to wait until the winter / Until it’s blurred, it’s gone away.”

This groovy masterpiece is a kaleidoscope of memories and surreal imagery. Lawrence’s lyrics read like poetry on its own accord: “(I remember) trains and boats and planes / And people from the past / Always making promises you know things that’ll never last.” We gain a glimpse into the narrator’s state of mind before he shines light on a particular memory. “And I was thinking back to the time when I was nine and / You were ten / You had a magic set that turned me into you then I said / Hey the day the rain came down that’s the day you weren’t around.” We’re brought into this strange wonderland of magic sets and being lost in the woods. The beautiful line, “I took the sun from the sky and held it in my arms for a souvenir,” makes me wonder if this is all a fever dream. Especially since he states earlier that “fever broke when the storms took hold.” Maybe it’s a shared hallucination? Nonetheless, the rain arrives: “And for your next trick maybe you could tell me who said / Hey the day the rain came down.”

The obvious J&MC pick would have been “Happy When It Rains,” but “About You” is such an underrated, endearing tune. It’s one of those songs you used to skip on an album, until one day, it suddenly feels new. This one waited for me. It evokes such tenderness and purity. The melody itself is clear and stripped down without the J&MC’s usual distortion. It begins with the welcoming statement, “I…can see / That you…and me / Live our lives in the pouring rain.” The way he sings makes me believe that liveliness is still possible despite this pandemic gloom. Usually, people complain about the rain but the singer instead declares, “There’s something warm about the rain” before moving onto “There’s something warm in everything.” The times are hopeful. He hasn’t given up on this connection yet; It’s only just beginning. “I know there’s something warm / There’s something warm / There’s something warm / Good about you.”

We return to The Clientele’s world within a window with “Monday’s Rain.” I mean, what better sight to watch from a window but rain? We retreat into our warm alcove, watching the world outside pass us by. “I’m dreaming in a still and empty night / And spooked by trains, I leave the windows light.” The flame of the candle on his windowsill warms you through the singer’s soothing voice. The singer seems to be putting off everything, “My friends say I’m wasting all my time / But tonight I watch the world, Sunday evening’s cars and girls / And Monday’s mine.” Waiting around for Monday, his only retort is “but tonight I watch the world, yeah, and my heart’s much harder.” Perfect for listening to by the fireplace or simply snuggled up in a sweater, drinking tea, and watching traffic lights reflect on wet pavement.

Banner Credit: cubone vasquez)

“Prayers for Rain” is a darkly melodic prayer of sorts off of Disintegration, my favorite album by The Cure. Here, you enter a seemingly hopeless portrait of someone emotionally lost, begging for a chance of renewal. Rainwater becomes a source of hope and redemption for the narrator as he likens himself to a man in a desert in search of water. “I suffocate, I breathe in dirt / And nowhere shines but desolate and drab / The hours all spent on killing time again / All waiting for the rain.” He is tortured by this persona but continues praying for a way out. Maybe there is one; “You strangle me, entangle me / In hopelessness and prayers for rain / Prayers for rain.”

(Art Credit: Tyler Peterson & Ashley D. Escobar

One Comment

  1. admin admin May 4, 2021

    I was just tempted to start writing about the songs that moved me! Thank you for reading. -Ashley

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