Monday, June 16, 2014

Songs About Rain

I'll always have a soft spot for Martín, perhaps the most significantly recurring name during my nearly six-year love-to-love/hate affair with Buenos Aires, though I don't believe I ever actually dated one. Coincidentally, as I write this blog post, there's a Sunday-afternoon Martin marathon on South African TV -- '90s black entertainment is everything here -- but neither Martin nor Martíns are the main point of this post. Bear with me, though.

I met my favorite Martín one Sunday night by the upstairs bar in Amerika in early 2006, at the end of my third holiday in BA. He'd go on to become my second Argentine friend (the first: another Martín, naturally, one whom I met halfway through my first BA trip). Martín No. 2 was sweet, cute, an excellent kisser, a fellow May baby, and unlike Martín No. 1, he spoke English. Though he moved to Madrid probably around the halfway point of my four and a half years in BA, he's someone with whom I still connect at least twice a year, on my birthday and 12 days later, on his.

He once told me about the time he went to an outdoor Madonna concert and somehow got separated from his friends. As panic set in, the sky swelled with rain and it began to pour down. Cue "Rain." It was a literal watershed moment. From then on, "Rain" was his favorite Madonna song.

I now let his slip in good taste slide because although I've never cared for that Madonna song, Martín was the one who got me to appreciate another one, "Isaac" on Confessions on the Dance Floor. I didn't care for it until he called it his personal highlight on Confessions, encouraging me to reconsider its merit. It's still not my favorite on Confessions (which is still my favorite Madonna album), but since "Like It Or Not" is the closing track, I no longer have to skip over anything on it. Martín didn't sell me on "Rain," but I knew it could be so much worse. His favorite Madonna song could have been "I Want You," her Ambien-strength 1995 collaboration with Massive Attack, a lowlight of her late-'90s hyper-serious monochromatic phase.

But getting back to rain (the meteorological event, not the song, and the real point of this post), though God's green earth can't live without it, I certainly can. It may provide the perfect excuse to spend a lazy day inside eating comfort food and watching bad TV, but it gets old fast. I have no idea what it was about rainy nights that drove the late Eddie Rabbitt to write a 1981 No. 1 country and pop hit about them. I love a rainy night only when I sleep through it, and the sun comes up in the morning.

I've been told to get used to rainy nights (and days) in Cape Town, though, at least for the next two and a half months, for winter is rainy season. It's not like I haven't lived through rainy seasons recently, but in Southeast Asia, where it's more or less summer all year long, running in the rain, which I've done exactly once, can be an enjoyable experience.

In drafty wintry Cape Town, it would simply be an unpleasant thing to do because you'd have to bundle up even more than usual. Sure I chuckle to myself when Capetonians complain about the cold and overdress the part -- Cape Town's average winter highs and lows would almost qualify as beach-friendly in New York -- but I think they might be reacting not to the wind chill but to the frequent rain, which probably seems more frequent than it actually is because of its timing.

If it weren't for rain's environmental benefits (which became so apparent to me while driving through the Namibian desert last month) and its cleansing properties (both literal and figurative), I might have no use for it at all. It's not like I really need an excuse to spend the day indoors. Oh, but without rain, what great music we all would have missed out on: "Cloudbusting" by Kate Bush, "Let the Rain Come Down" by Toni Childs, "Summer Rain" by Belinda Carlisle, "A Day Without Rain" by Enya, and the following 10 rainy-day classics.

"Songs About Rain" Gary Allan

"Rainy Night in Georgia" Brooke Benton

"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" Willie Nelson

"The Rains Came" Freddy Fender

"Crying in the Rain" Tammy Wynette (and The Everly Brothers and a-ha)

"It's Raining Again" Supertramp

"I Can't Stand the Rain" Tina Turner

"Rain in the Summertime" The Alarm

"In the Rain" Keith Sweat

"Prayers for Rain" The Cure

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