Mix This: Rainy Day Songs

In our latest mixtape, Brian, Colton, Dan, and Grant have selected some of their favorite songs to listen to on rainy days. As usual, we’ve included a Spotify playlist for you to listen to as you read. Click play on the YouTube video above for full effect.

The Doors – Riders on the Storm

One of the great rock songs of the 70’s is literally accompanied by ambient recordings of rain and thunder. Jim Morrison’s smooth voice and the Rhodes that did so much work for the Doors make “Riders on the Storm” at once both enchanting and apprehensive. The round notes plink from the keys like water droplets, the drumming is tight with lots of cymbals, and the guitars try not to crowd the song, as all together they achieve a spacious, jazzy classic. – Colton

All Too Well – Taylor Swift

There’s a whole subgenre for brooding ballads that retrace the course of a broken relationship, and those songs never sound better than on rainy days. My favorite recent entry is Taylor Swift’s reflection of a romance that stopped working for no particular reason except that it didn’t work. The song crescendos as Tay-Tay digs deep into her repressed bitterness that it all fell apart: “I might be okay, but I’m not fine” – “Maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up” – “I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to.” – Dan

Little April Showers – “Bambi” soundtrack

I admit it: I’m new to the “Mixtape” game. So when tasked to pick five “rainy day” songs, I may not have made the most creative choices – I mostly stuck to songs about rain. But within that narrow niche, few compositions so ably capture the feeling of a rainstorm as this one. The Disney chorus’ vocals flawlessly simulate the storm’s coming and going, from the gradually accelerating “pitter patter” of the first droplets, to the haunting wail of gale-force winds and the cymbal-crash of thunder, and finally back to those same droplets, tapering off. – Brian

The Same Deep Water as You – The Cure

It’s not just the rain clouds that open and close the apotheosis of Disintegration. It’s the hypnotic way it makes eight minutes feel simultaneously like two and twenty, the way you just get lost in it if you listen as rain hits your window. I don’t think anyone ever used synths better than the Cure, and Robert Smith’s echoing vocals, their distinctive rubbery guitar, and another poignant tale of a broken heart exacerbate the haunting feeling. Probably the first thing you’d play for a newcomer to the band, and an easy call for this list. – Grant

Drop of Water – Dana Lyons

Hm. As I suspected, this one doesn’t seem to be on Spotify. I got on a Dana Lyons kick in middle school, after seeing the animated music videos for his comical ballad of animal rebellion, “Cows With Guns.” Most of Lyons’ songs (including “Cows”) have a decidedly liberal political message, revolving around matters such as conservation, vegetarianism, and pacifism. “Drop of Water” is his least agenda-driven song, and consequently my favorite. Like “April Shower,” the song builds, following a drop of water (what else?) as it builds into a trickle, then a stream, then “a tearing torrent you can feel.” An excellent musical tribute to the power of nature’s forces. – Brian

Atmosphere – Joy Division

I’ve written love letters to this song before, but there was no chance I was excluding it here. ‘Atmosphere’ might be Joy Division’s most definitive track, even though it never made a real album, and the first time I heard those chimes layered on top of everything is one of those musical memories seared into my mind. Producer Martin Hannett, as always, made it sound as though there were miles of space in between each musical component, but it’s Ian Curtis’s incomparable voice that plunges deeper and darker. Without him, the song, and the band, wouldn’t have made darkness sound so ferociously, unbearably compelling. – Grant

The River – Bruce Springsteen

Foreshadowing the sound and theme of his next album, Nebraska, the title track of Bruce’s fifth album is a heartbreaking tale of a life gone off course: “All them things that seemed so important / Well, mister, they vanished right into the air.” But the song’s saving grace is the image of absolution in the chorus, of swimming in the river on rainy nights and getting lost in the Earth to escape the world. Our comfort may be frail and fragile, the song argues, but not our humanity. – Dan

Evanescence – My Immortal

Thunder can crack, and thunder can roll. To me, “rainy day music” is all about the rolling thunder, and the water that pitter-patters, however heavily, but doesn’t crash. Amy Lee and the band hit every note I’m looking for: softly connected lines, a gentle swell, and a whole sound that is at all times subdued. They flow into a genuine climax and ebb from it back to invisibility without ever erupting. This song is the epitome of my rain aesthetic. – Colton

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – B.J. Thomas

Okay, this is kind of a freebie. When I thought, “Gotta pick rain songs…”, this was the first tune that came to mind. But even if my motives for picking it were lazy, it’s a great, catchy song all the same. First heard in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I remember it better for its use in Spider-Man 2, after Peter Parker decides to take a break from being Spider-Man and smell the roses for a while. “Raindrops” makes a powerful argument for optimism: Remember, you’re never gonna stop the rain by complainin’. – Brian

Elegia – New Order

To honor their former Joy Division bandmate Ian Curtis after his suicide, New Order wrote the gorgeous ‘Elegia’ (Latin for elegy). As far as I know, it’s their only instrumental song, almost as if they knew they couldn’t do Curtis justice with banal rock lyrics. It’s like an amalgamation of every dream pop soundscape ever; in the keyboard sparkles, weightless synths, and gritty guitar topping it off, you can hear everything from Beach House to U2’s Unforgettable Fire album. – Grant

Stoppin’ the Love – KT Tunstall

If you know Ms. Tunstall, it’s probably from “Suddenly I See” or “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” two singles that received radio airplay following the release of her first album in 2005. Like those two excellent singles, the album track “Stoppin’ the Love” has a tremendous, hooky sense of rhythm. But unlike those two upbeat numbers, “Stoppin’ the Love” is slow and moody, perfect for a rainy morning. – Dan

Porcupine Tree – Feel So Low

Steven Wilson, the lead creative mind in Porcupine Tree, has spent the last two decades at the forefront of progressive rock music. Experimentation yields mastery, and in the wake of elaborate and erratic tracks (some even on the same album, Lightbulb Sun) he was able to rein in this one tune and mold it into a perfect shape. Here, even the lyrics come as if from a man standing in the rain, resigned. It is as sonorous as it is depressing, which makes for a wickedly powerful combination. – Colton

Moods for a Stormy Night, album by the Mystic Moods Orchestra

Maybe “mood music” is a little too hippy-dippy for your tastes. All I know is, this album, released in 1993, is one of the first I can remember listening to frequently. Throughout much of first and second grade, I often listened to “Stormy Nights” as I fell asleep. The album combines rain and other atmospheric sounds with slow, peaceful orchestral arrangements of popular melodies. My favorite track has always been “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” which I first heard on this album, and which just happens to be the one Dan selected for the Spotify playlist. We’re sympatico, us Earn This writers. – Brian

No Surprises – Radiohead

I don’t know a song with a more severe air of resigned melancholy than this deep cut off OK Computer. The simple construction and avoidance of nebulous lyrics and ornate instrumentation stamp it as an atypical Radiohead entry—there’s no barrier between Thom Yorke and the listener here, no bullshit or needless complexity, just honesty and resignation. “I’ll take the quiet life, a handshake of carbon monoxide,” he sighs, because then at least there would be “no alarms and no surprises, please.” – Grant

Palladio I, Allegretto – Karl Jenkins

The first movement of Jenkins’ Palladio suite has been famously used in a fantastic ad campaign by DeBeers featuring shadowed silhouettes. But to me, it’s not Diamond Music, it’s Rainy Day Music: Turn it on your car radio with rain splashing on the windshield and I guarantee you’ll feel a sense of destiny rising from the busy, gray surroundings. – Dan

The Reindeer Section – Cold Water

When a cloud cries, that’s rain. Corny, I know, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to attach feelings of sadness to wet weather. Voiced by Gary Lightbody (of Snow Patrol fame), Scottish amalgam The Reindeer Section brings the tears out with this track. Not to leave you hopeless, though, they show a glimmer of light breaking through the clouds with a buoyant outtro provided by a small horn section. – Colton

Celestial Soda Pop – Ray Lynch

I debated making my final selection “Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,” but thought I’d try to stretch my creative faculties at least a LITTLE. “Celestial Soda Pop,” the opening track from Lynch’s “Deep Breakfast,” isn’t “about” rain, per se. Instead, it’s cerebral, otherworldly, and, well…sounds like flying through space. If you’re looking to escape your gloomy surroundings for a moment, zone out to Lynch’s electronica-tinged burbles and take a sip of the celestial. – Brian

Altogether – Slowdive

If you’re walking outside on a bitterly cold, rainy night, with nothing but your thoughts to accompany you, nothing will sound more appropriate than this, and I mean nothing. Unlike on many other Slowdive songs, ‘Altogether’ has no hazy layers of bright guitars; instead, its darkness envelops you completely. By the time they whisper, “It broke my heart, but then I guess you didn’t know,” the spell is complete. – Grant

Closing Time – Semisonic

Semisonic’s last-call classic is something I find myself listening to on quiet, overcast evenings. You probably know the song, or at least recognize its emotional “I know who I want to take me home” chorus. “Closing Time” slices both ways: It’s definitely mopey like a rainstorm. The tune is bittersweet, and half the lyrics are variations of “goodbye.” But there’s something optimistic here, too. Singer Dan Wilson’s voice is urgent and hopeful, and he acknowledges that endings lead to new beginnings. This is a song that not only helps me enjoy the rain, but excites me for tomorrow’s sunshine. – Dan

Eels – It’s a Motherfucker

It’s hard to say anything about this song. I’m worried that any description, any critique or commentary, could cause a tear and rip the fragile beauty of it apart. Just listen. Get a hot drink, leave a book open in your lap, stare out the window, and listen. – Colton

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Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

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