Some of the best songs ever written were inspired by one of life’s most prevalent natural interruptions, the rain. A symbol of sadness and release which has become a cornerstone in popular music, it’s a cathartic theme that helps songwriters craft excellent melodies and evoke the power of nature in their songs.
Whether you’re feeling down, praying for a change of season, or you’ve just got a garden that’s looking a little dry, there are plenty of reasons to be on the hunt for great songs about liquid precipitation. We’re here to help: We’ve scoured Spotify and our memory banks to find the all-time greatest songs about rain, in hopes of helping you hear the wet-weather single you’re looking for.
Here are our handpicked selections of the best songs about rain from a myriad of popular genres, in no particular order.
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Among the most iconic pop ballads ever written, Prince’s Purple Rain is a love song with beautiful saxophone melodies, impassioned vocals, and shimmering keyboard lines that create a brooding mental image. The song builds to a guitar solo climax in the middle of its almost nine-minute run time — a long, slow form that simulates a massive dark storm passing overhead.
Fame, money, and success don’t always lead to happiness, or so posits John Fogerty on CCR’s hit single Have You Ever Seen The Rain, a song Fogerty wrote when the band was at the top of the charts, and yet somehow every member felt unhappy. “Have you ever seen the rain/Coming down on a sunny day” sings Fogerty in the song, using the metaphor to describe the struggle of discontent, even when you’re at the top.
Among the most melancholy singles ever released by iconic Motown group The Temptations, I Wish It Would Rain is the story of a heartbroken man who wants to hide his sadness. The song features samples of an actual thunderstorm, and paints a musical image of rain with elegant, descending strings.
It’s probably appropriate that the final single released by rock legends Led Zeppelin in the United States is about a man being stood up on a rainy street corner. A rhythmic and emotional song which features a samba beat, supposeldy inspired by the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, Fool In The Rain was never even performed live by the band after its release. Led Zeppelin officially broke up in 1980.
One of Clapton’s first hit singles, this 1970 song about love is most notable for its use of both “rain” and “reign” in the lyrics. It’s a clever vocal interplay that helps draw you into the intensely groovy and upbeat song — a perfect track to throw on at the end of a long, dry summer.
Bob Dylan’s complex single about injustice and suffering was based on the question-and-answer form the singer borrowed from the traditional English ballad “Lord Randall.” One of three songs Dylan performed at Carnegie Hall in 1962, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall offered a tumultuous and emotional soundtrack for young people in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and remains one of the most important songs about global issues ever written.
A gentle ballad with a beautiful trombone passage in the intro, Come Rain or Come Shine is an upbeat love song about loving someone no matter what. Originally penned by Johnny Mercer in 1946, the tune has strong staying power, having been recorded by the likes of Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, and, our choice, Ray Charles — whose version charted separately in both 1960 and 1968.
“Into each life some rain must fall/But too much is falling on mine” sing Bill and Ella on this classic early-’40s ballad. An iconic composition which has been re-recorded by numerous jazz vocalists over the years, the song was even featured in the last two installments of the Fallout video game franchise.
James Taylor wrote Fire and Rain immediately following the death of his childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr, who committed suicide while the singer was in London recording his first album for The Beatles’ Apple Records. In the song, Taylor uses rain as a metaphor for sadness and depression, talking about the balance between positive energy and sadness that drove him to manic depression in his early days.
Part of the acclaimed soundtrack of late-’60s film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, this light and jovial hit reached number one on the charts in the United States in 1970, and also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song that year. In the film version, the acclaimed lyrics about dealing with inclement weather sound a bit hoarser than on the studio version, because Thomas was recovering from laryngitis, and was required to do seven back-to-back takes by an unsatisfied Burt Bacharach (who wrote the song).
Rain often brings about emotions like those expressed by Stevie Nicks on this early-’80s single, in which she wonders how an ex-lover is feeling about their break up. “Outside the rain/The heart skips a beat/Are you lonely?” she sings to open up the heavy-grooving ballad. “Baby, there’s no one that can take my place,” she croons, confidently.
This power ballad from heavy rockers Guns ‘N Roses is a classic period piece — right down to the synthesized strings and massive-sounding drums. Lead singer Axl Rose uses his sharp-edged vocal technique to tell an emotional tale of heartache, supported by layers of acoustic guitar and digital piano in a monstrous ballad that showed the band’s softer side.
There’s an intense feeling of release in John Coltrane’s gorgeous instrumental ballad that inspires both longtime jazz fans and newcomers alike. With horn lines that soar over a bed of trickling piano, this expressive final track off of Coltrane’s Impressions album remains as cathartic today as the day it was recorded.
Though it was written by Fred Rose (and first recorded in 1946 by Roy Acuff), it was country legend Willie Nelson who would make this song about two parting lovers a classic in 1975. A simple recording that hinges on Nelson’s voice and the sound of his legendary guitar Trigger, it’s the opening lyrics, “In the twilight glow I see them/Blue eyes crying in the rain,” that sets the tone for the whole song, drawing you into a beautiful story of love and loss.
Those looking for a pick me up on a rainy day will enjoy this warm and floaty classic, recorded as part of the 1952 classic film of the same name. Beautiful horn and string arrangements boost the positivity of Gene Kelly’s voice, providing you with just what you need in dark and dreary times.
An easy-listening classic with a stormy edge, this is one you’ll want to put on when you’re ready for the storm to be over. Though pretty bell lines make this early-’60s single sound upbeat, Cascades’ frontman John Gummoe is actually singing about how he wants the rain to go away so that he can cry alone, rather than with the world.
The three verses of CCR’s Who’ll Stop The Rain were written by John Fogerty following a trip to 1969’s rain-drenched Woodstock festival. It’s a story about how change requires hard work by honest people, rather than good intentions, flower power, or incremental political policies.
Cult-beloved group The Beta Band and their song Dry The Rain saw a huge boost in popularity following the hit romantic comedy High Fidelity, which used the song in a prominent scene. A soothing jam which prominently features slide guitar, the song is perfectly suited to any dreary day.
New York rapper Blu shared this compelling story about his life and work on his debut album Below The Heavens, centering on the idea that there’s no reason to wallow in your own sadness. With Slow Dancing In The Rain, he argues that it’s better to just keep moving and working on passion projects than to feel depressed about how other people perceive you or your work.
The title track of blues legend Buddy Guy’s eighth studio album is a slow and gentle song featuring backing vocals from famed singer Bonnie Rait. Like all great blues ballads, there is some hope hidden in its sadness, with lyrics like, “Just lie here in my arms/Let it wash away the pain,” to console you.
A beautiful finger-style guitar line is the first thing to grab you on folk songwriter A.A. Bondy’s Black Rain, a song about the showers of sadness one can feel between passing love. Striking lyrical passages like, “Love it don’t die/It just goes from girl to girl” grab your ears even in your saddest moments, helping you confront your sorrow without drowning in it.
Elvis’ early-’70s single Kentucky Rain tells the story of a man who’s searching for a woman in the heart of a massive Kentucky rain storm. A cinematic song with French horn, strings, and gospel backing vocals, it was among the first of The King’s early-70s hits.
Those looking forward to the end of a rainy day (or several) will take solace in Joe Purdy’s I Love The Rain The Most, as the songwriter softly declares that he loves the phenomenon best, “When it stops.”
City Rain, City Streets is a story of love and loss in New York, as told by Ryan Adams on his album Love Is Hell Pt. 2. A catchy guitar line and emotive vocals build to a big climax at the end, with Adams screaming out the song’s final lines just as the final chord hits.
If you’re struggling through a tough time, there’s perhaps no better pop song to soothe your soul than Mariah Carey’s lullaby Through the Rain. The lead single from her ninth studio album Charmbracelet, the song is an homage to Carey’s own personal struggles in 2001 — a time in which she lost a major record deal, and her father passed away.
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