Tips for Listening to Music While It’s Raining

That’s a pretty obscure title, right? I mean, not obscure in that the word choice is jumbled or difficult or esoteric. It’s more obscure in the sense that “why on earth would anyone need advice on how to listen to music?” And I agree. I think that’s a fair criticism. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. But, if I may have a chance to respond:

Rain Creates an Atmosphere for Certain Music

This, of course, is the rule. There are exceptions. But the rule: rain makes people want to listen to slower music, sadder music, or songs about rain. And there is no shortage of songs about rain. For example, “Songs About Rain,” “Singing in the Rain,” “Rain,” “Looking at the Rain,” “Purple Rain,” “The Rain Song,” “Kentucky Rain,” “Rainy Night in Georgia,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Rainy Day Woman,” “Red Rain,” “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” “November Rain,” “Raining Blood,” and even a few that don’t have “rain” in the title like “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “The Sky is Crying,” and “Little Bird.” And those were just the ones I could think of off the top of my head. Go ahead. Listen to them. This article will still be here when you get back. Listen to those and tell me those don’t create a rain feel…well, except for “Raining Blood.” That one will probably just want to make you drive fast or play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and listen to the VRock radio station.

It’s a rainy morning here in Dallas, and I actually have my Amazon Echo playing songs about rain. It’s nice. It fits. Just the music, the rain, and a hot cup of coffee. It’s peaceful. Music that fits the atmosphere makes me more productive. If it’s sunny and beautiful, I listen to fast, upbeat music and get a million things done. If it’s rainy and gross, I put some rain music on and get just as much done. It’s wonderful.

Expanding Your Horizons

But the rain also presents an opportunity to expand your musical knowledge and taste. For instance, jazz is wonderful rain music. Not a jazz fan? Have you even tried it, or is this more like how kids don’t like spinach even though they haven’t even tasted it yet? Please, humor me, and listen to some jazz. Just ease yourself in. Maybe the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, or Charlie Parker’s Bird on 52nd Street. Those are all great sort of “entry level” jazz albums.

Time Out holds a particularly cherished space in my heart because that was the first jazz album I ever listened to. I was taking a music appreciation class at Texas State University in the Spring of 2008. The professor, an enthusiastic and corpulent-but-in-a-jolly-Santa-Claus-way pianist named Morris Nelms, gave us an assignment where we had to listen to either jazz or classical music and write how we felt about it. I know. That’s such a hippy-dippy B.S. liberal arts way of thinking, but it turned out to be invaluable to me. Here’s how important that was: I never once even spoke to Morris Nelms directly, but here we are 13 years later and I still know the guy’s name and can picture his face and classroom in crystal clear definition.

Classical music is also good for the rain. I want to preface this by saying I’m not a classical music expert. Aside from hip-hop and Billboard Hot 100 songs of the last 15 years or so, classical is my weakest genre of knowledge. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. Often I’ll have my Amazon Echo just play songs by Mozart or DeBussy or Beethoven. Classical music is great because it all fits the rain perfectly, but also fits evenings in general. My wife thinks I’m nuts, but sometimes in the evenings I’ll put a ball game on the tv on mute, have some Mozart playing, and work on a crossword puzzle or something. It’s nice, and it’s super relaxing.

Take Advantage of the Bad Weather!

I get that the rain can be a downer. I don’t like it because it means mud and more cleaning, plus everything that involves leaving the house just seems like more of a chore when it’s raining. What do you mean I gotta drive to the grocery store? It’s raining out!

But to the mind more attuned to the silver linings of those dark rain clouds, the rain provides an opportunity for personal growth. Listen to some music that fits the rain. See if you can be just as productive when it’s gross out as you are when it’s sunny and 72°F out. And besides, what’s the worst thing that happens? You don’t like Dave Brubeck? You can’t handle a little Chopin? Big deal. At least you tried. And who knows? Maybe, like me, you’ll fall head over heels for a type of music you once considered beyond your taste.

So here is a concise list of tips for listening to music in the rain:

  1. Start off with a song with “rain” in the title;
  2. Keep the volume too loud to hold a conversation, but not so loud as to be disruptive to your own process;
  3. Drink something hot like coffee, tea, or even cocoa;
  4. Expand into jazz or classical music;
  5. Periodically stare out into the rain as if it holds answers to questions you can’t even fully articulate; and
  6. When you switch to alcohol, go with a simple hard liquor drink like bourbon on the rocks or a gin and tonic.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to crank some rain music and stare out my window like I’m in a 1980s music video.

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