This winter in the UK has seen another time where the weather has seen fit to make an already crap time (lockdown) even worse. There’s been heavy snow, storms, lots of rain, frankly it’s been a dreadful time that really hasn’t helped with the feeling of being trapped in one’s home.
So what better subject to write about this week – as spring begins to show its hand – than, again, the weather. But this time with a tilt toward the rain and stormy weather, as perhaps unsurprisingly there’s a lot of songs on this subject.
I asked on the offchance late last week – having covered this subject in one form nine years ago (April 2012) – and got no less than 306 suggestions, with thirty-five of those having been used before (although interestingly only eight of those, covering four songs, were actually used on /Tuesday Ten/154). There was a mighty 248 unique songs suggested, with 78 people suggesting songs (with five people suggesting 109 of those songs between them).
Thus, there was a lot of choice, and perhaps I’ll return to this for another aspect of the weather in a future post (as there were so many good songs suggested). Thanks, as ever, to everyone who gets involved.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Talk About The Weather
/Talk About the Weather
It is perhaps no surprise that a British-based music blog such as this will write about the weather more than once (indeed, including related subjects, this is the fourth time I have in this series). After all, the British are often characterised as people that will default to talking about the weather over just about anything else – maybe it is because it is one of the few neutral things we can find common ground regardless over. It’s either raining too much or not enough, too hot or too cold, too windy or not windy enough. At least until Climate Change really has begun to bite in recent years, there were rarely too many extremes in our weather – now we get them all: regular flooding from heavy rain, lengthy heatwaves and dry spells, (comparatively) warmer winters. The thundering growl of one of the Lorries’ best-known songs sums up the British problem nicely, as a partner is accused of avoiding the failing reality of a relationship, it seems, by trying to discuss the weather…
There is something about this exquisite song that immediately brings to mind dreary, rainy Manchester nights. Interestingly, not a lot of the song is actually about the weather, but the atmosphere and suggestion of pouring rain is so important to the feel of it that it could be another member of the band. A song of wanting to be left alone, for the world to stop knocking on the door, the bridge in the song that reminds “the storm comes / or is it just another shower” could be read as a variant on “it never rains, but it pours“. Either way, this song transports me to – perversely – higher ground as soon as I hear that distinctive guitar sound that opens, and anchors, the entire song.
/A Rainy Night in Soho
/Rum Sodomy & the Lash
Amid the often chaotic feel of Pogues songs, it is easily forgotten that they were capable of elegant, thoughtful songs that had an incredible ability to conjure the listener’s own connections to their descriptions. A Rainy Night In Soho is one of those songs, as you can just imagine Shane Macgowan and the subject of his affections meeting by chance under a Soho awning on a filthy night. We’ve all been there, right? Trying to avoid the rain while having a drink in the Soho of old, maybe cadging a cigarette from a fellow barfly as we try not to get soaked. Westminster Council have of course done their best to erase the seedier side of Soho – which has had the unfortunate side-effect of making most of it somewhere that isn’t fun to drink and go out in anymore – but it lives on in the memory for those of us that experienced it, and this is a sweet throwback.
/Good Girl Gone Bad
The unexpected, massive hit across the summer of 2007 – a summer that, at least in Sheffield where we lived at the time, was very wet indeed – was a song of compassion and friendship. Rihanna’s vocal offered support to a friend, using the metaphor of an umbrella to shelter that friend from the rain, and amid the good vibes, were a host of hooks that meant the song was inescapable both on radio, TV and in your head. That summer, though, needed something to distract us – the Sheffield floods in June 2007 were no fun at all, and it was reckoned that summer 2007 was the wettest since records began in the UK. So of course a song about the rain was number one all summer!
/The Gales Scream of Loss
English Black Metal band Fen remain a strikingly different band to many of their peers, long having added a near-pastoral nature to their sound, one inspired by their home region of East Anglia, the Fens themselves. This early song by the band – one from their first EP, in fact – howls with the winter desolation of the region. I spent a few years as a child living on the edge of the Fens near Cambridge, able to see for miles to the north and east across flat, stream-crossed landscapes, and my mother-in-law now lives in one of the larger Fenland villages – and the wind really does howl across the area, making it a place, as this song suggests, where you feel the potential prescence of something sweeping across the drains, and in the winter, particularly on a grey day, the colours can feel as flat as the landscape.
Blixa’s liner notes for this song explain that this remarkably pared-back, gentle track – perversely long a live favourite for this band with a reputation for sonic power and chaos – came from overhearing an elderly English lady saying the melodious, looping refrain. Almost, then a character sketch of a particular kind of English psyche – we’ll stay in the garden, until the rain comes. That said, we’ll likely still remain glowering under an umbrella until that shower passes, right? Barbequeues in this country aren’t quite the same unless we’ve had to run for cover at least once…
Until I saw this song mentioned in the suggestion thread for this post, I must admit that I’d not thought of this album in some time, never mind listened to it. Live get a bit of a bad rap at times, their crime, perhaps, was coming to prominence in that post-grunge period where any band that had a bit of a sense of anguish and that could wield a guitar got a record deal. Throwing Copper, at least, had a sense of drama and a fistful of alternative rock hits that struck a nerve, and it was certainly a favourite of mine for some years. Curiously, though, Lightning Crashes was the one single from this front-loaded album (most of the singles are on side one, that’s for sure) that I struggled to recall until I listened again. A tender tribute to a friend lost too young, it uses the idea of lightning striking as a way of linking life, death, and rebirth, and the song crackles with emotion as a result.
/Welcome to Goodbye
The magnificent centrepiece to Rotersand’s breakthrough – and still most popular, I’d wager – album is one that barely mentions the weather aside from the title, but still brings up the feeling of one breaking in sonic form. Like any good storm, it rises out of nothing, an ominous hum and distant drumbeat, before the first crashes of thunder are heard on the horizon as percussive attacks, and then all of it comes together for the full force of the storm breaking directly over, before fading away again. Although no longer played live, it seems, for a long time it was a fantastic live track by the band, that mass of percussion unsurprisingly working to great effect.
/The Firstborn is Dead
This mighty song opens with a rumble of thunder, and the sound of pouring rain, and that feel of standing in the heart of a roaring storm remains across the whole five minutes of this song. It is a song that imagines the birth of Elvis Presley amid a raging storm in Tupelo, Mississippi, in a small house in the city, while using Biblical imagery and a feeling of mighty foreboding, and all the long, the rain and thunder never stops…
/It Can’t Rain All the Time
/The Crow OST
Ask a bunch of alternative/goth-leaning friends for songs that involve the weather, and of course a song from a certain much-loved film and soundtrack will pop up as the most-suggested song. Amid the tragedy that surrounded the production of The Crow, though, one of the most notable other elements of the film is that it imagines an alternative Detroit in shades of grey and black, but also a city where it never seems to stop raining (hence the title of the song featured here, a phrase said multiple times in the film, as an expression of hope and the potential for better days to come – which, of course, never really come). Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry, then, closed the still-excellent soundtrack album with a gentle ballad that acts as something of a salve after the sheer darkness of the album and film that preceded it.
And with that, spring is finally here, and maybe, thus, better times to come.