Rain in Music

When myths are mentioned most people automatically think about ancient legends or folktales. However one of the most important ways that myths have been presented in both the past and the present is in the form of music/song. Just as water is present in many traditional mythological forms it is also common in music. One of the common forms it takes is as rain. Although songs may use many of the same meanings for water, they can use those meanings to achieve different effects. Two songs which do this are “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Singin in the Rain”

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” was released by Creedence Clearwater Revival on their album Pendulum in 1970. The first time rain is mentioned in the lyrics is in the line “There’s a calm before the storm”(Creedence Clearwater Revival). According to the Cambridge English dictionary the meaning behind this well known phrase is “a quiet or peaceful period before a period during which there is great activity, argument, or difficulty.”(Cambridge Dictionary) Rain is again mentioned in the line “It’ll rain a sunny day I know shinin’ down like water.”(Creedence Clearwater Revival). In an interview with Ken Sharp, Fogerty stated, “I was basically writing about the breakup of the band and using the natural phenomenon that we’ve all experienced when rain can be falling down on you coming out of a blue sky…I just know that a lot of times in CCR I’d be thinking to myself, We’re accomplishing our greatest dream, why are we so unhappy?”(Sharp). At this point the song has laid out that a period of argument or difficulty is coming, and that it will occur unexpectedly. The next new piece of information we are given by the song is after the chorus when it talks about the sun being cold, rain being hard, and how it is all a cycle(Creedence Clearwater Revival). This seems to insinuate that not only is change itself hard, but that life is hard. This gives almost a bleakness to the song which is belied by the earnest yet upbeat music accompanying the lyrics.

“Singin’ in the Rain” is best known as it was performed by Gene Kelly in the movie “Singin’ in the Rain” in 1952. The lyrics of “Singin’ in the Rain” contain frequent mention of rain and clouds(Kelly). But, in comparison to the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, rain plays more of a background or a counterpoint to the main meaning of this song. Gene Kelly’s character Don sings “ I’m laughing at clouds so dark up above. The sun’s in my heart and I’m ready for love.”(Kelly). This shows a character who is looking at rain and saying that they are ready for the positive changes which are coming towards them. Don treats the downpour he is in as an outlet for his happy emotions instead of a portent of difficulties ahead. According to Mark Richards the scene has an unreal feeling to it as Kelly’s character dances about singing, while the people around him watch “puzzled by Don’s joy of singing in the pouring rain.”(Richards) Those same people are behaving as most people do when caught in a downpour, they are going about their business, but for this one person, rain has become an occurrence which does not bother them and which even allows them to celebrate.

In both “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Singin’ in the Rain”, rain has a symbolic meaning of change. In the first song this change is hardship and is seen fearfully. In the second song the change is being celebrated and the singer is excited to move forward. The most important information to be gained from this is that even though water or rain can be identified as a symbol of change, what really determines more is the expectations of the person experiencing the change.


Works Cited:

“The calm before the storm.” Cambridge Dictionary, accessed 7 February 2017. dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/calm-before-the-storm.

Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” Pendulum. 1970.

Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” 1970. Youtube. 9 February 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu2pVPWGYMQ.

Kelly, Gene. “Singin’ in the Rain.” Singin’ in the Rain. Sony, 1952.

Kelly, Gene. “Singin’ in the Rain.” 1952. Youtube. 9 February 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1zYhVpdXbq.

Richards, Mark. “Love and Music in Singin’ in the Rain” 26 April 2013. Film Music Notes. 8 February 2017. www.filmmusicnotes.com/love-and-music-in-singin-in-the-rain/.

Sharp, Ken. “John Fogerty: A ‘Fortunate Son’ Speaks (The Interview).” 16 November 2015. Rockcellar Magazine. www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2015/11/06/john-fogerty-fortunate-son-interview-memoir-creedence-clearwater-revival/#sthash.4x5D9IrL.dpbs

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