Art Matters Rain

Rain might make for May flowers and provide inspiration for songwriters, poets and filmmakers — but it can also make it mighty hard to get to routine errands done.

April showers bring May flowers. Or so the story goes.

But despite the promised payoff, it seems like we’ve seen more than the average idiom’s worth of rain this month. Could it be that I don’t usually notice the rain except during global pandemics, when it would be nice to send my children outside for the day and yet when I suggest it the answer always comes back: “But it’s raining!”

It’s well-documented that artists, however, thrive on adversity, and on the fickle whims of Mother Nature.

T.S. Eliot might have lamented that “April is the cruelest month,” though the chip on his shoulder extended far beyond a mere rain storm, but it’s the filmmakers and the songwriters who have elevated rain as both something to celebrate and something to despair.

Rain, whether literal or metaphorical, can come between relationships and define breakups, as in “Here Comes the Rain Again” by the Eurythmics, “Raining in My Heart” by Buddy Holly and Supertramp’s “It’s Raining Again.”

Phil Collins is so distraught over his breakup that he wishes it would rain.

Rain can literally kill a relationship, as itdid to Betty and Jimmy in “Leader of the Pack,” by the Shangri-Las.

The Manhattan Transfer asks how long the rain will last in “Trickle, Trickle.” Apparently our hero in the song is made of salt, since he’s unable to get out to the party to meet his baby on account of the rain.

“Only love can make it rain,” according to The Who and later Pearl Jam.

A rainy night and a yellow umbrella pretty much drive the entire narrative of the nine-year television series “How I Met Your Mother” despite Ted Mosby’s unrelenting belief that love is all about fate and destiny.

Having an umbrella also comes in handy for the protagonist in the Hollies’ song, “Bus Stop.” Make a note kids, sharing an umbrella is romantic.

“Well it’s a rainy night in Paris,” is how Billy Joel opens his song “Somewhere Along The Line,” and while the lyrics are, for the most part, depressing, the imagery is nonetheless romantic.

As in real estate, location is important when it comes to rain. While a rainy night in Paris is romantic, a “Rainy Night In Georgia,” is just plain sad and lonely in the Tony Joe White song popularized by Brook Benton.

“Rainy Days and Mondays” always get Karen and Richard Carpenter down, and don’t even get them started on rainy Mondays.

The only thing worse than April rain, according to Guns ‘N Roses, is “November Rain.” And whether it’s April or November you certainly don’t want to leave your cake out in the rain, as presumably both Donna Summer and Richard Harris did in “MacArthur Park.”

But rain isn’t all doom and gloom. Eddie Rabbitt loves a rainy night and according to the Weather Girls, sometimes it rains men. I’m not sure what the lyrics mean, but Jerry Garcia sounds happy when he sings “Box of Rain.” Then there’s the band Garbage—they are “Only Happy When it Rains.”

Is it raining in every scene in the movie “Blade Runner,” or do I just remember it that way? That was one heck of an April. Fun fact: “Blade Runner,” which came out in 1982, was set in the far-off dystopian future of 2019.

It’s romantic rain for Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell at the end of “Four Weddings And A Funeral.”

Who can forget Holly Golightly in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” looking for Cat in the rainy alley?

And while it might seem obvious to mention Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain,” it’s worth mentioning since not many musicals manage to pull off authentic rain scenes, much less sing in them.

It rains on the just and the unjust alike, especially when they are busting out of prison, as evidenced in the breakout scene in “The Shawshank Redemption” where Tim Robbins, as wrongly accused prisoner Andy Dufresne, tunnels his way to freedom one very rainy night. It’s also raining in “Raising Arizona” when Nicholas Cage’s bone-headed criminal friends dig their way out of prison on account of they “felt that the institution no longer had anything to offer us.” Prison breakouts, rain and mud; they just seem to go together.

If you think your April has been a little too rainy, you could think about what all that rain represents: romance, love, breakups, breakouts. Or you can just be happy it isn’t snow.

(1) comment

Ellen Brodssky

Very cute and thorough!

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