RIFF REWIND: The Weather Girls say it’s raining men, Garbage and Bob Dylan

As I write this there’s a storm rolling through the Bay Area; one of many to hit the area sequentially over the course of nearly two weeks. You could go whitewater rafting in the street in front of my house, there are trash cans blown into the road all over town, and I think my back yard is legally a pond. And there’s another storm behind this one.

What I’m saying here is there’s only one obvious timely theme: Sunshine.

No, I’m not that clever. Here are five songs tangentially about or mentioning rain to get you through the moist weekend. May that precariously wobbling tree miss your car.

The Weather Girls — “It’s Raining Men”

First off, yes, the group that did this song is The Weather Girls. That was their entire schtick. It just goes to show that more bands should have a shtick; we’re still talking about them over three and a half decades later. It’s the recipe for success!

Second, did you know that this song was co-written by Paul Shaffer? That’s right, the David Letterman bandleader. It’s true! Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross and Cher turned it down for some reason. I would absolutely love to hear any of them do a cover.

Third, have you ever considered the logistics of an actual rain of men? Men, traditionally, don’t do well falling from great heights. Can you imagine the cleanup? The property damage? The agonized wails of the survivors? It would be hellish! Like a horror movie come to life! You’re monsters, The Weather Girls, wishing that on people.

Garbage — “I’m Only Happy When It Rains”

Back in the ’90s I was right in the sweet spot of Garbage’s target demographic. To this day I can only write code if I’m listening to a scratched CD of Version 2.0 on loop. And this song has a special place in my heart because it was featured in an episode of The X-Files with Bruce Campbell.

Yes, I’m extremely from the ’90s. And yes, most of that was more than 20 years ago. Get off my lawn!

Anyway, this song isn’t actually about rain, of course. It’s also not about how cool it is to be sad all the time. Over the years the band has admitted that it’s self-parody, an over-the-top version of alternative rock songs glorifying misery. So really it’s only on this list because it has “rain” in the title and because I wanted to hear it. It was either this or Blind Melon’s “No Rain” so count your blessings.

Bob Dylan — “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

I’m not even going to try to analyze Bob Dylan lyrics. Everyone knows that’s a fool’s errand. The only thing that seems obvious is that it’s extremely post-apocalyptic, so it’s probably anti-war? And the rain symbolizes… bombs? Or it’s just meant to evoke the feeling of an oppressive force of nature pounding down on you from above?

Or it’s just words? It might just be random words.

Look, you’re gonna have to ask RIFF’s resident professor David Gill. I don’t do analysis. I just list songs I like based around a hastily conceived theme with rambling jokes and occasional historical anecdotes. It’s a good gig if you can get it.

Creedence Clearwater Revival — “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”

Come on, I had to get one in here from my dad’s favorite band. They’re East Bay natives after all and—most importantly—they’re one of the best bands of all time. Any excuse to listen to CCR is a good excuse.

The Bay Area’s greatest Southern rock legend John Fogerty is a criminally underappreciated songwriter and this track is a perfect example. I’d put this up against just about any single in the classic rock canon, but you rarely hear Creedence mentioned among the great classic rock bands. They’re mostly mentioned by me, if we’re being honest.

Gordon Lightfoot — “Rainy Day People”

From my dad’s favorite musicians to my mom’s. Regular readers know of my vocal and often forceful Gordon Lightfoot fandom, so there’s no way I could pass up a chance to get him on the list.

This isn’t one of my favorite Lightfoot songs if we’re being perfectly honest. It’s a little sappy, a bit musically simplistic, and very short. But the worst Gordon Lightfoot song is still better than the best song by most other musicians, so it makes the list despite also not actually being about rain.

Just wait until I declare it Songs About Trains Week. Then I can include Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” and “Steel Rail Blues.”

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData

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