The 10(ish) Top Water Songs OF ALL TIME
Water. It’s everywhere. It’s in everything. It’s our most important natural resource, so it’s no surprise that it makes quite a few appearances in some of our favorite songs. Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared June to be New York Music Month — a celebration of all things music for both industry insiders and fans — and we decided to get in on the action. So to celebrate, we asked the NYCWater staff to offer up some of their very favorite songs about water and the music just started to flow. (Flow. Get it? Water!)
This was a surprisingly popular exercise — as of this publication, the suggestions are still rolling in, along with impassioned “How could you forget ______?!” emails.
Ready or not, Here We Go!
The Undisputed Leader
The 1995 Billboard chart-topper was, by far, the most nominated song on this list. With its timeless activist message and before its time music video, we were only a little surprised to hear our boss scream “Waterfalls!” from his office as soon as he read the question.
It’s Raining, It’s Pouring
There was no shortage of song suggestions with “rain” in the title. Whether we’re singing in it or crying in it, that sweet sky h20 knows how to make our ears sing.
“Singin’ in the Rain,” Gene Kelly
Gene Kelly really knew what bliss a rainy night could bring. The title track perfectly captures the spirit of the 1952 musical — this song is pure joie de vivre.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” Creedence Clearwater Revival
Were you as surprised that you knew all of the lyrics to this song as we were? The song, released in 1971, reached number 1 in Canada and peaked at number 8 in the U.S. and has inspired countless cover versions, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that this song was one of the first on our list.
“No Rain,” Blind Melon
IMO, this video is the forebear to the iconic movie, “Little Miss Sunshine.” 1993’s “No Rain” was Blind Melon’s biggest hit and, apparently, that bee costume never goes out of style. Watching this video, all we can say is, dance, little bumblebee, dance!
“In the Rain,” The Dramatics
Talk to us: has your heart ever been broken quite like this? The Dramatics crafted a dramatic intro for their 1972 hit — listening to the crashing thunder and crackling lightning makes you feel like you’re really outside in the rain. Go ahead and let a tear drop, we won’t judge.
“Purple Rain” Prince
I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying! RIP to The Purple One.
Girl, Look at That Body (of Water)
If our watery tunes aren’t talking about the rain, then they’re waxing poetic about rivers, lakes, oceans and bays. Not so much about harbors, though. Anyone know why that is? (Songwriters, this is your chance!)
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding
We’re ashamed to admit it, but days went by before anyone mentioned that Otis Redding’s timeless anthem probably needed to be on this list. Redding recorded the song just days before he died in a plane crash in 1967 and the song was released after his death. The posthumously released single reached the top of the charts and cemented Redding’s lasting legacy.
“Cry Me A River,” Justin Timberlake
This music video rocked the world of teens everywhere when it came out in 2002. Released just after the most tragic breakup in history, the couple’s young fans spent hours analyzing the song and video searching for clues as to WHAT WENT WRONG, lyric by lyric and frame by frame. Justin + Britney 4Ever. (Editor’s note: This is just one writer’s contribution. This very strong opinion does not reflect the sentiments of the NYCWater staff as a whole.)
“Agua,” Jarabe de Palo
We’ve all been there, in the dreaded friend zone. This song captures our woes, our unrequited love:
When you’re thirsty
But there’s no water nearby,
When you want to drink
But there’s no water nearby.
We feel you man. We may not be able to get you out of the friend zone, but, we’re always here to quench your thirst.
“Water No Get Enemy/ New World Water,” Yasiin Bey & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
This exultant mashup was recorded live at Felabration, an annual celebration of the life and music of the Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti. In this performance, Brooklyn born hip hop artist Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, combines his sociopolitical song, “New World Water” with Fela’s legendary, “Water No Get Enemy.” Coupled with the driving percussion of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, they have created something almost better than its parts.
“Proud Mary,” Ike & Tina Turner
Though the relationship between Tina and the late Ike Turner was famously abusive and volatile, the music they created together rings with passion and intensity. (Does anyone immediately begin to do all of the choreography anytime they hear this song? Just me? Ok. Nevermind then.)
“Take Me to the River” Al Green | “Take Me to the River” Annie Lennox
This twofer showcases the magic that can happen when you working with a perfect song. (Yeah, I said it. It’s PERFECT.)
We ❤ NYC
“Ashokan Farewell” Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band
This song was a gift from the Director of Communications of our beautiful Watershed and we really couldn’t have described this song any better ourselves:
Aside from being one of the most well-known modern folk songs, it is also the only song I am aware of that is named after a part of our water system. It was also the theme song for the award-winning Civil War documentary by Ken Burns.
Honorable Mentions (because we had to draw the line somewhere)
“Oceans,” Jay Z
“Date With the Rain,” Eddie Kendricks
“November Rain,” Guns N’ Roses
“I Wish It Would Rain,” The Temptations
“Bubbly,” Colbie Caillat
“The Water is Wide,” Carla Bonoff and James Taylor
“All Over You,” Live
“I Can’t Stand the Rain,” Missy Elliott
“Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon & Garfunkel
“Moon River,” Andy Williams
“Lake By the Ocean,” Maxwell
So tell us, what are your favorite water songs?