Thursday, April 28, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: April Showers

This year's spring has been cold and rainy (with a few sunny, warm days sprinkled in). This week looks like it's going to stay warm and sunny but we do have to celebrate all that rain with a rainy playlist (that will hopefully lead to May Flowers...and like...crops...).

"Rainy Days and Mondays" by The Carpenters
Paul Williams and Roger Nichols wrote this rainy day sad song which came from a very personal place for Williams. He was hoping to have his Hollywood career take off so he could take care of his mother, but he continued to struggle. Luckily, 1971 saw this song reach #2 for The Carpenters and his acting career began soon after. Another song you might know that Williams co-wrote?: "Rainbow Connection!" It just goes to show you that rainbows really do come after the rain.

"Africa" by Toto
David Paich had never been to Africa when he wrote the song. He based the depictions of Africa on National Geographic articles. Yet somehow he was able to capture "the rains down in Africa" with such poetic language that we can all almost imagine ourselves being there. "Africa" became Toto's only #1 in the U.S.

"It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls
A novelty track with lasting impact, "It's Raining Men" was written by Paul Jabara and Paul Schaffer. It was originally intended for Donna Summer, who turned it down because she felt in conflicted with her faith. Diana Ross, Cher, and Barbara Streisand were also offered the song, but declined it. Several years later, in 1982, the song was offered to the duo Two Tons, who were also skeptical. Jabara's persistence with Two Tons finally resulted in a recording. After the song was successful, the duo even changed their name to The Weather Girls to make it less confusing for listeners who thought they were introducing the band name at the beginning of the song.

"Riders on the Storm" by The Doors
I don't know if I can honestly think of a better song to represent a dark, rainy night. The Doors came up with "Riders on the Storm" during a jam session in which the springboard was "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Morrison put many elements of his personal life into the song, including his experience hitchhiking as a teen. "Riders on the Storm" was the final song recorded by Jim Morrison before his death.

"Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin
"Fool in the Rain" was Led Zeppelin's last official U.S. single before they split up in 1980. Robert Plant and John Paul Jones were inspired by the samba beats they heard during the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina. Led Zeppelin never performed the song live, but Plant later performed it with Pearl Jam in 2005 for a Hurricane Katrina benefit concert. I don't know if it was in the best taste to sing about a "fool in the rain" during a destructive tropical storm, but at least his heart was in the right place. 

The One-Mind Tracks Single of the Week: "Ballet for a Rainy Day" and "1000 Umbrellas" by XTC
One-Mind Tracks on the air does a weekly "single," where we take two related songs and group them together. It's not a real single, but please pretend with us. This week, both songs on the single come from Skylarking, a 1986 album produced by Todd Rundgren. "Ballet for a Rainy Day" leads seamlessly into "1000 Umbrellas" on the album. Since they're both about rain, it only seemed right to keep them together for the single.

"The Shadow Proves the Sunshine" by Switchfoot
If you're hating the rain, don't forget that it just makes sunnier days all the more beautiful. That's what Jon Foreman sings about in "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine." The album it comes from, Nothing is Sound, was often perceived to be a darker album. The band has always felt that it's more of a hopeful album, with Foreman saying, "I may write about how everything is meaningless, but it’s a very hopeful thing for me to be proven wrong."

"November Rain" by Guns N'Roses
For that one person who was going to tell me I forgot this one: here it is. At almost nine minutes, Guns N'Roses held the record for the longest song to enter the Billboard Top 10 until Taylor Swift broke the record with her #1 single, "All Too Well (Taylor's Version)." According to Slash though, the band even recorded an 18-minute version before the final recording. Anyway, it's a classic song about rain. As Regina Spektor says, "the solo's awful long//but it's a good refrain." 

"Rain" by The Beatles
An under-rated Beatles track for certain, "Rain" was the first pop song ever released with reversed vocals. Ringo Starr considers "Rain" to be his greatest recorded work as a drummer. John Lennon said the song was about "People moaning because [...] they don't like the weather." Lennon has claimed to have written the song alone but Paul McCartney remembers it differently. His perspective on the song was that people shouldn't have such a negative perception of something that can be wonderful, saying: "Songs have traditionally treated rain as a bad thing and what we got on to was that it's no bad thing. There's no greater feeling than the rain dripping down your back."

"Who'll Stop the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival could have had the single this week with "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" but I decided to go with two that ran together better. "Who'll Stop the Rain" has been interpreted as a protest song and a song about Woodstock, with John Fogerty even stating as much, saying he went home and finished the song after he was at Woodstock.

"Purple Rain" by Prince
Another long rain song, "Purple Rain" is one of Prince's apocalyptical narratives, this one disguised by his favorite color raining down from the sky. In 2007, Prince performed at the Super Bowl halftime show. He closed his set with "Purple Rain" just as real rain began to fall from the sky.

Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at Or you can listen in for an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fits the theme!

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