Here in our hometown of San Diego, we’re known for our biotech industry, our well-trained orca, and our dense military population. We’re not exactly a city with a reputation for rain. However, the skies sometimes like to open up and shower off our sandy streets and dusty mall rooftops. Invariably, even a light celestial tinkle leads to snarled traffic. On the bright side, those long delays give us the opportunity to get reacquainted with the soggier songs in our iPods. Here’s a quick list of 5 of our favorite rainy day driving songs, plus a special bonus track.
1) The Doors: Riders on the Storm
The interplay of Ray Manzarek’s pitter-pattering Rhodes piano and the real-life storm sound effects makes this track quintessential wet-weather listening. Close your eyes at the climax of the piano solo, and you’ll image yourself standing at a forgotten bend of Route 66 in a rain slicker with your thumb outstretched and a hunting knife in your back pocket (if you’re having trouble visualizing, a couple caps of peyote should do the trick).
2) Grateful Dead: Box of Rain
Whether you love or loath The Dead, there’s no denying the ear appeal of this doleful momento mori. According to music lore, this was the last track played during the last encore of The Dead’s last concert at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
3) Cat Power covering David Bowie covering Nina Simone covering Johnny Mathis: Wild is the Wind
Many vocalists have wrapped their chords around this tumultuous love song, but Cat Power’s tinny, haunting piano accompaniment and languid delivery make her rendition best suited when the clouds are grey with no silver linings.
4) Prince: Purple Rain
If you can get through all 8+ minutes of this pop, gospel, R&B fusion without getting choked up by the memory of a relationship that died before it had a chance to blossom, then you need to be purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
5) Guns N’ Roses: November Rain
Axl does have a heart hidden under his corn-rowed chest hair, and he pours it out like so many shots of whisky in this, the most powerful of power ballads. Sure, the flutists do dull the edge of Slash’s solos and the video is a tad self-indulgent, but as a whole this opus knows how to grab hold of your heartstrings and rip ‘em out of your chest (look closely at any live performances, and you’ll notice that Duff’s mascara always starts running by the end).
Bonus) Ernest P. Worrell (From Ernest Goes to Camp): Gee I’m Glad It’s Raining
You thought nothing could penetrate Ernest’s eternal optimism, but apparently if you trick him into tricking Chief St. Cloud into signing away his land rights to an evil miner, you burst his upbeat bubble and turn on his waterworks. Good think Iron Eyes Cody was on set to give Ernest a pep talk on the transformative power of a good cry.