Winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call… out some lyrics, and you’re bound to be reminded of all the songs that tap into feeling some way about the weather. James Taylor may have been trying to get a different point across with those lyrics from “You’ve Got a Friend,” but the underlying message is still the same: there is a season for everything.
Any change of weather is bound to conjure up more than just a new wardrobe. Whether it’s hot, cold, windy, rainy, or there’s snow on the ground, there will always be a song fit for the occasion. With the holiday season now behind us, and we brace for more “Stormy Weather,” it serves as the perfect time to celebrate our favorite atmospheric conditions.
Also, National Weatherperson’s Day is on February 5. So, in honor of the holiday, let’s brush up on a few of our favorite songs about the weather.
While there are many recordings of this Christmas classic, the one with Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer is perhaps the most popular. It was originally used in the movie “Neptune’s Daughter,” and even won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. But, its journey from the 1940s to now has been somewhat treacherous. Cold weather, bad behavior, and questionable drinks aside, the song was able to hold up (at least until 2014) when Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé took it to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. In 2018, radio stations began banning the tune, as it mostly now gets a chilly reception. John Legend and Kelly Clarkson recently gave the song an updated twist with new lyrics, hoping to warm some hearts for the holidays.
The ‘80s was a time when upbeat pop music ruled the airwaves. “Walking On Sunshine” fits right in, using sunshine as a metaphor for the joy of being in love. The song has been used in a number of movies such as “The Secret of My Success” (1987), “Look Who’s Talking” (1989), and “American Psycho” (2000), just to name a few. Although the tune remains popular, the group was pretty much a one-hit-wonder in America. Unfortunately, their name became synonymous with the weather once again, when hurricane Katrina struck the Southern United States in 2005.
In 1974, Ann Peebles was the first one to tell us how much she hated the rain against her window. In 1997, Missy Elliot put her own “supa dupa fly” twist on things, reminding us how being caught in a downpour can quickly alter a mood. The song was produced and co-written by Timbaland, Elliot’s longtime collaborator. The video, which was her first, featured Timbaland and was in constant rotation on MTV. Peebles’ song may have been sampled in the chorus, but it’s Elliot’s version that reigns supreme.
There is something incredibly enchanting about The Beatles assuring us that the sun is about to shine, and everything is going to be all right. After a long cold lonely winter, there’s nothing any of us want more. The song was penned by George Harrison in Eric Clapton’s garden, while Harrison was playing one of Clapton’s guitars and made it onto the British rock band’s 1969 album Abbey Road. The album celebrated its 50th anniversary in September. “Here Comes the Sun” is the most streamed track on the album to date.
1983’s “Here Comes the Rain Again” reminds everyone that the rain will always return, both figuratively and literally. Comprised of Annie Lennox on vocals and instrumentalist Dave Stewart (both former members of The Tourists), the Eurythmics struck gold with their melancholy mood songs. They were also ex-lovers, which likely added that special spark to their unique sound. “Here Comes the Rain Again” marked the second U.S. Top 10 hit for the duo. The song may be a distant memory, but every time it plays, it still brings us new emotions.
Paul Simon can arguably be considered one of the greatest poets of our time. Together, he and Art Garfunkel created some of the world’s most prolific songs, oftentimes painting a picture to describe some sort of metaphor. “A Hazy Shade of Winter” is no exception. Simon penned the song, using seasons to represent the cycle of life. While it was initially a single, it was eventually released in 1968 on the duo’s fourth studio album, appropriately titled, Bookends. The Bangles remade the song in 1987, introducing it to a new generation, ironically reinforcing Simon’s metaphor about the cycle of life.
As one of Cream’s most popular songs, 1967’s “Sunshine of Your Love” set the tone (so to speak) for the hard rock, psychedelic, and pop sounds that would follow. The song was written by Pete Brown (“I Feel Free” and “White Room”), while the music was penned by Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. Certainly, there’s no mistaking this for a love song, but the sunshine metaphor calls to mind the power that the weather has to sway your mood. Love is like sunshine. And sunshine has the power to warm the coldest of days.
As one of the most covered songs in history (there are thousands of official recordings), “Summertime” originated as a George Gershwin song from the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess.” Since then, it has been tackled by greats such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, and Willie Nelson. But, it’s Janice Joplin’s version (with Big Brother and the Holding Company) that takes Gershwin’s song about the season to another level. Joplin’s blues-rock version, which was included on her 1968 album, Cheap Thrills, showcased the singer’s sultry voice in all of its glory. Joplin lived a far-from-easy life, but somehow all she had to do is say the word “Summertime,” and the entire world felt better.
For a lot of people, the livin’ is easy in the summertime. In 1970, the British rock band Mungo Jerry elaborated on just how easy life can be when the weather’s fine. The track was written by Ray Dorset in 1968, who described how the melody (which just popped into his head) and the lyrics came together within a couple of days. The song isn’t typical of structure or instrumentation, which makes it an anomaly of sorts. Whether it’s the “Chh chh-chh” or the foot percussions that draw you in, “In the Summertime” is one of the greatest. It stands as one of the best-selling singles of all time. Ironically, it’s trumped by two other songs that touch on the weather: “Candle in the Wind 1997” and “White Christmas.”
Off of 1984’s Love at First Sting, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” flew in with the breeze, taking a spot as one of the top metal songs of all time. The German rock band found permanent success with their signature song, as the choice Scorpion tune is still a favorite to use in movies, television, and at sporting events. While the reference isn’t about a literal hurricane, the lyrics proved their point. Hurricanes are one of the strongest forces in nature – much like the desire of heavy metal bands in the 1980s.
Motown music has always had a way of making us feel something powerful. Martha and the Vandellas used “Heat Wave” in 1963, to describe what burning love can do to someone. This song was the group’s first Top 10 hit and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording in 1964. The track was penned by Motown songwriting team Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland. Dozier wrote it in Detroit during the summertime. While he was sitting at the piano, he heard a “heatwave” cue from the TV weatherman and knew what he needed next – the right girl. Martha Reeves took the song from hot to sizzling, and the rest is history.
“Riders on the Storm” was the last song that Jim Morrison recorded. It was released in 1971, just before his death. The psychedelic rock song is often thought of as an autobiographical account of the famed singer’s life. Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek tell the tale how the track came out of a jam session that was inspired by the 1948 cowboy song, “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Manzarek’s use of a Fender Rhodes electric piano to echo the sound of gentle rain, combined with the storm that bookends the track, propels this song into a different atmosphere.
Hallelujah! All hail The Weather Girls. This disco duo knew how to make almost everyone happy at the thought of rain. Showers are okay, as long as it’s raining men. Martha Wash and Izora Armstead harnessed their vocal prowess into this song (written by Paul Shaffer and Paul Jabar), evoking a wave of emotions in women and men alike. “It’s Raining Men” was released in 1982 and even earned a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Their mix of disco, R&B, soul, and 1970s electronic music lent itself to a new era. It was the perfect storm.
Published on AXS.com.