On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Ann Peebles – I Can’t Stand the Rain (1973)
After travelling to New York with Stevie Wonder yesterday, we’re heading over to Missouri today, dear reader. Our guest today is Ann Peebles who rose to fame in the 1970s as a result of her immersion in Memphis Soul which was popular at the time. 1001 Songs has lifted a track from Peebles that was released in 1973 and remains one of her most popular – I Can’t Stand the Rain.
I Can’t Stand the Rain was written by Peebles, her later husband Don Bryant and Bernie Miller. Peebles made the remark, “I can’t stand the rain”, as she, Bryant and friends were about to leave to attend a concert and a song soon emerged. In the track, Peebles laments the sight and sound of rain against the window pane, the droplets bringing to mind the alternative “pain” in the shape of bittersweet memories of a love now lost. Peebles may be harking back to a more positive memory of being with her lover when rain was prevalent in the air but perhaps those droplets resonate as they are akin to tears falling from the sky. Either way, the narrator here laments the heavens opening for nostalgia kicks in, memories of a happier time she once shared with her lover, but now an empty space can be found in the bed they both once slept in.
I loved the origins to this song and how an almost throwaway remark from Peebles became the inspiration for an entire track. The use of weather conditions to evoke mood has always worked well in literature and the same is true here. Ann Peebles conveys a narrator who is still very much lost in the mists of heartbreak and they can’t escape from the agonising memories if the mere sight of rain is enough of a catalyst for them to remember what they once had. They could move to a warmer country, I guess, but I don’t suspect that will be enough somehow. Peebles’ gives a beautiful rendition here but if the song has one weakness it comes with its brevity.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Beach Boys – God Only Knows (1966)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
The Kinks – Days (1968)
Derek & The Dominos – Layla (1970)
David Bowie – Life on Mars? (1971)
Rod Stewart – Maggie May (1971)
Stevie Wonder – Living for the City (1973)