From the 1950s-era optimism of song lyrics to the sarcastic humor found in the songs of today, musical rain imagery has consistently played a part in the lyrics of popular songs. Whether your musical tastes reflect a love for classic rock, hip hop, or even country, just about every era has no shortage of impressive rainy-day songs. So, let’s look at the 27 best songs about rain through the years of popular music.
1. Purple Rain by Prince
The first song on our list of the best songs about rain is Prince’s haunting anthem, Purple Rain. While the artist’s famous love for the color purple likely played a part in the song title, the color more likely relates to the melancholy mood portrayed in the lyrics. The talented singer also croons about red in the blue sky, clearly a reference to the purple-hued combination of colors. But this song was also written about the end of the world, per Prince himself, so this song’s connection to a difficult time also matches up well with others using rain imagery.
2. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rain can sometimes come alongside sunshine, and the lyrics of this CCR song illustrate this unusual occurrence. The songwriters of this wildly popular song from 1971 also may have been describing the bombs of the raging Vietnam war at the time, likening them to falling like rain. While most listeners of this song hear the clear connection to sad times as the rain is falling, the popularity of this song through the years has remained steady despite its potentially controversial undertones.
3. Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly
First introduced in 1952 as the title song of a popular movie by the same name, this lighthearted song encourages listeners to remain positive when the rainstorms of life get you down. Through the years, listeners have connected with Kelly’s advice, and the track has been replicated, remastered, and used in countless other musical circumstances and its lyrics are widely recognized by people of all ages.
4. Umbrella by Rihanna
A modern, sultry rain-themed song on our list, Umbrella shot to the top of the charts in 2017. Rihanna notes that the shared comfort of the umbrella in a rainstorm actually relates to a friendship bond when life is tough. However, this song has resonated with listeners since the day it burst onto the music scene since wanting support in relationships is universal to the human experience.
5. The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin
The genius lyrics by Robert Plant in The Rain Song cover the change of seasons from winter to spring. But lovers of this popular 1973 Zeppelin classic tune know that the rain in this song relates to the renewing, positive rain that falls during the new growth of springtime rather than a sad rainstorm. Uplifting and haunting, this song has remained popular for generations. Ultimately, we consider this one of the best songs about spring ever.
6. I Wish it Would Rain by the Temptations
This 1968 classic tune from the Temptations hits all the right notes as the lyrics pine for a rainy day to cover the tears over a lost love. Hidden teardrops and a rainy day paint the timeless picture of melancholy in this unforgettable tune about devastating heartbreak.
7. Here Comes the Rain Again by the Eurythmics
With the first few striking beats of the song, the Eurythmics created an earworm of a song that has stood the test of time. The catchy song’s British undertones about ubiquitous rain resonated with listeners all around the world who could relate to a little rain and heartache showing up in everyone’s life regularly.
8. Rain on Me by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande
This new entrant to our list of great songs with rain as a focus is from 2020. This catchy tune speaks to meeting the challenges life throws at us head-on but being grateful at the same time.
9. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain by Willie Nelson
Country crooner Nelson famously recorded this song in 1975 but fellow country singers Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, Sr, also did prior with less success. The lyrics speak of the memorable last view of a lover’s gorgeous blue eyes covered by raindrops because of their romantic break up, but lovers of this song recall the haunting chorus sung by the inimitable voice of the legend Willie Nelson.
10. Fire and Rain by James Taylor
Taylor’s striking tune from 1970 paints a vivid picture of sadness and loss as well as Taylor’s own personal demons with substance addiction. The lyrics have a universal appeal since everyone deals with some sort of tragedy, loss, or challenge in their own life. This song was recognized as a Grammy Hall of Fame winner as well since it has been universally acknowledged as a classic tune that stands the test of time.
11. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac
This outstanding song from Fleetwood Mac uses dream and rain imagery to paint a vivid picture of the end of a turbulent relationship. The repeated imagery of thunder, lightning, and rain throughout the song makes for a catchy chorus that has given this song staying power since its initial release in 1979.
12. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan
Likely written with political undertones, this poignant song penned by Bob Dylan in 1962 has remained a favorite through the years. Even though Dylan admitted the rain in his ballad is literally describing a bleak world, his beat poetry style of lyrics and music have created fans of this song ever since its release during that politically turbulent era.
13. Rain by the Beatles
The Fab Four’s song about the weather is notable for one surprising reason: it was the first tune to feature the sound of a backward voice. But listeners may not even have realized this first was included on Rain, as its popularity didn’t take off immediately when released as the flip side tune to the wildly popular Paperback Writer record. This song’s theme of people always complaining about poor weather still resonates with listeners today.
14. November Rain by Guns N’ Roses
This ballad written by rock legend Axl Rose in 1991 features lyrics that describe the ache for a lost love. As Rose’s song describes how even a cold November rain will eventually pass, listeners can feel the sadness and hope that the emotionally exhausting time will pass, too.
15. Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
With Adele’s stunning lyrics and even more evocative voice, this song’s conflicting imagery created an instant hit when it was released in 2011. The improbable image of rain that is set ablaze is one that listeners understand as Adele sings of heartbreak over a love that was not true. Instead of painting a cool, watery picture, this song’s memorable fiery imagery struck through with raw emotion ensures that this song’s popularity will continue for future generations to enjoy.
16. Rain Over Me by Pitbull Ft. Marc Anthony
This disco-rave dance song found worldwide popularity when it was released in 2011. Ironically, the video for Rain Over Me was shot in the desert, adding to the lyrical twist brought to a beat-pumping song about losing love to someone else.
17. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly) by Missy Elliot
Hip-hop mogul Elliot’s tune hit #4 on the Billboard Charts back in 1997 when it was released. The chorus’s repetition of “I can’t stand the rain (against my window)” shows that this song is really an anthem for fighting against challenges rather than giving into them with a melancholy mood. Facing difficult times or circumstances by not letting the rain bother you is the theme of this mellow melody.
18. Raining in My Heart by Buddy Holly
As one of the songs included with rock legend Buddy Holly’s greatest hits album, “Raining in My Heart” tells the story of lost love, the feeling of rain the resulting sadness in contrast with gorgeous sunny weather outside. Holly’s upbeat voice is an ironic contrast to the words describing the rainy tones of the verses.
19. Come Rain or Come Shine by Ray Charles
Another classic, this song by the inimitable Ray Charles was actually written for a Broadway musical in 1946. The singer’s unmistakable voice combined with the jazzy feel of this song creates a memorable love song. With his smooth crooning voice, Charles sings that he will pine for his beloved no matter what rain or sunshine the circumstances bring.
20. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by BJ Thomas
Long recognized as a children’s classic tune, Thomas’s song was first released in 1969 as part of the soundtrack to the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. With lyrics that speak of denying that the hard times in life should get you down, this song’s positive outlook resonates with adults and children alike.
21. I’m Only Happy When It Rains by Garbage
This alt-rock tune hit the charts in 1995, right around the peak of the 90’s era of music celebrating this genre. As the song’s main riff focuses on the idea of being contented only during challenging times, listeners of all ages can relate to the conflicting feelings. The lyrics highlight the similarities between all kinds of music, as well, since country tunes are also famous for words that reflect a certain comfort in a sad state just like this popular alternative rock song champions.
22. No Rain by Blind Melon
This 90s alternative rock song shot to the top of the charts as much for the catchy tune as for the memorable “bee girl” star in the music video. But this song’s popularity has endured over time because the message behind the song is one that so many can relate to: questioning why some people have a hard time in life when other people actually look forward to challenges since they are not life-changing problems. Most songs about rain decry the difficulties that a little rain in our lives bring while this song focuses on the bigger questions in a lighthearted fashion.
23. It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls
The wildly popular disco song era produced many songs perfect for dancing and singing along, creating an era full of anthems still admired today. This tune by The Weather Girls is no different but this fun and undoubtedly kitschy song was actually released in 1982, one of the latest disco-style songs of the era to find a popular audience. Ironically sung by two powerful songstresses who honed their big voices in church, this tune was almost immediately embraced by the club scene as an anthem alongside “Y.M.C.A.” among other big-beat songs. Upbeat and loud, this tune is the opposite of most rainy-themed songs since the idea is one of celebrating an overwhelming positive rather than reflecting on hard times.
24. Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters
With the Carpenters’ signature soft sound in direct contrast to other popular, loud rock bands of the era, this 1971 hit from 1971 is characteristic of the brother-sister duo’s typical sound. This melancholy tune takes two images, rain and the start of the workweek, and pairs them up with the idea that they both create a common feeling of sadness. With the smooth voice of Karen Carpenter and the hypnotic sound the Carpenters were known for, this song has endured through the years as a beloved rainy day anthem.
25. When it Rains it Pours by Luke Combs
This tongue-in-cheek song has become a rallying cry for anyone who has a potentially sad situation but instead has made the best of it. Combs sings of a litany of situations relating to losing a relationship that, while in the relationship, were taboo. But now that it is over, the events have all turned out well, so the expectation of rainy outcomes is ironically now creating happiness. An unusual twist on the rainy-day theme, this country song has bonded listeners who have gone through a tough time but have unexpectedly come through it with flying colors. Even though it was a number 1 country chart hit in 2017, the song continues to play in radio rotation because of its timeless theme and catchy, lighthearted lyrics.
26. I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit
Another country song is one of the best songs in this category of rainy-day tunes, Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love a Rainy Night.” Characterized by its upbeat tone and strong beat likened to the consistent thump of windshield wipers, Rabbit’s lyrics sing of the optimism that a rainy night brings since a sunny day usually follows the difficult night. Music lovers connect with Rabbit’s song because it not only reflects the peacefulness that stormy weather can bring but also relays the promise of hope and contentment of better times to come. The song is undeniably a sing-along tune with catchy, repetitive lyrics that only seem to enhance the upbeat tone.
27. The Rhythm of the Rain by the Cascades
A number 1 hit for a few weeks in 1963, this song by the smooth singing Cascades is easily recognizable even today as emblematic of the era of male vocal harmony groups. Unique with its entrance and ending which featured real rain and thunder sounds, this song’s easy-listening sound was created in part by the use of an unusual instrument choice, the celesta or bell-piano. As the lyrics describe a forlorn lover, audiences can relate to the feeling of wanting the comfort of the rain while also wanting the rain to give him answers to his heartbreak. Finally, the lyrics even point to the idea that the sadness of the rain is not enough, and it should also go away so he can cry in peace over his lost love. Listeners are entranced by the Cascades’ inclusion of real rain sounds, adding to the overall romantic feel of the song.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.