The tempests of life are made up of wind and downpour, and once in a while, these troubling sentiments seem to try to drown us during difficult times. Songs that are written to create a sense of urgency within us, reflecting the tides about what we might be feeling inside, are the songs about storms.
Musicians realize that we can all come together and relate to the problematic turbulence that occasionally disrupts our lives, regardless of whether it is a physical storm brewing or an emotional one. These songs capture the emotion and intensity of the power of the storm brewing within each of our own hearts.
We always have to keep in mind, however, that no matter how bleak the storm looks, there’s usually always a sunny resolution.
1. The Doors – “Riders on the Storm”
Jim Morrison, the infamous lead singer of the band, “The Doors”, is known for his dark, moody, and mysterious nature. The song “Riders on the Storm”, was the last song Morrison ever recorded before his death.
Expert Tip: The song can be seen as an autobiographical account of Morrison’s life: who considered himself a “Rider on the Storm” and “killer on the road” is seen as a reference to a screenplay he wrote called “The Hitchhiker”.
The lyrics, “Girl you gotta love your man” can be seen as a desperate plea attempt towards his long-time girlfriend Pamela, who was often disenchanted by Morrison’s antics. This evolved out of a jam session when the band was messing around with “Ghost Riders In the Sky,” a 1948 cowboy song by Stan Jones.
That was later recorded by Johnny Cash, Bing Crosby, and many others. It was Jim Morrison’s idea to alter the title to “Riders On The Storm.”
2. The Eurythmics – “Here comes the Rain Again”
’”Here Comes The Rain Again” is kind of the perfect storm, one where it has a mixture of feelings, interwoven with a string of b-minors, and b-naturals, and so it kind of feels like the minor has been suspended. It lends toward a feeling similar to “here comes depression”, or here comes that downward spiral of emotion.
But then it changes and uplifts the mood with, ‘so talk to me like lovers do, and wanders in and out of melancholy sadness, a dark beauty akin to that of the rose.
3. Adele – Set Fire to the Rain
Adele’s song “Set Fire to the Rain” is about being able to free yourself from a toxic relationship. As we all know, when a relationship is doing more harm than good, it is time to let it go. I think Adele was able to draw strength in this song by turning AWAY FROM her sadness (the rain) and shifting her attention more towards the fire, her anger.
This helped her to mobilize herself enough to be able to move on with a sense of dignity while captivating the audience in this beautiful song about a storm.
4. Johnny Cash – Ghost Riders in the Sky
Ghost Riders in the Sky was written by film and television actor Stan Jones but was performed by many. The most notable performance was probably by Johnny Cash and the Outlaws.
The song is based upon an old European myth called “The Wild Hunt” and talks about the folklore of a cowboy who has a prophetic vision about red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky while being hunted by the spirits of a damned gang of cowboys.
A guide comes to warn the cowboy that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever “trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies”. The story has been linked with a supernatural group of hunters that the narrator illustrates during the wild, metaphorical pursuit.
5. Imagine Dragons – Thunder
“Thunder” was written by the lead singer of the Imagine Dragons, named Dan Reynolds. “Thunder” is basically about the band’s struggles about how they managed to surmount all the challenges in their life to achieve their long-cherished dreams of becoming global icons in the music industry.
It’s basically a big FIT to all the haters that said they would never make it, with its big booming sound, and catchy phrasing, it’s hard not to love it right off the bat.
6. Garth Brooks – The Thunder Rolls
“The Thunder Rolls” was written by Garth Brooks and Pat Alger, and features the story which centers on an abusive husband, whose infidelity was marked by the sound of thunder and lightning striking. The video was extremely controversial with Brooks himself portraying the abusive husband.
Some television networks, including CMT, wouldn’t even play it. Even though the networks tended to shy away from the controversial song, several women’s shelters were supportive of the song and viewed it as a tool for raising awareness about the true terrors that haunt the victims of domestic violence.
7. Of Monsters and Men – I of the Storm
The title “I of the Storm” forecasts a deeply perplexing song about a person who is caught up in a battle over her own mind. It’s the eleventh track from Of Monsters and Men’s new album “Beneath the Skin” and is about dealing with the kind of guilt and shame feelings that everyone seeks to avoid.
But Of Monsters and Men’s lead singer, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir wants to explain her side of the story, even if she doesn’t know how to deal with the demons that haunt her.
8. Eric Clapton – Fall Like Rain
Mr Slowhand composed this melody as a tribute to a series of “homemade” music he heard as a kid. Clapton told BBC Radio in 1998.
“Writing that song was just simply tuning back into the music of my youth. I was listening to folk music and the more I listened to that, I got deeply moved and influenced by Bluegrass and Appalachian music, especially the sort of field recordings that were available during that time.”
9. Herb Alpert – Making Love in the Rain
“Making Love in the Rain” is the third single by Herb Alpert from his Keep Your Eye on Me album. It features lead vocals by Lisa Keith with backup vocals by Janet Jackson and was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Expert Tip: Quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs overwritten, “Making Love in the Rain” is a sultry, sensual fantasy about well, making love in the rain. Backed by a POWERHOUSE of composers, this song never got the attention it deserves. It’s absolutely the most PERFECT song to play on a romantic, dark, and stormy night.
10. New Edition – Can You Stand the Rain
Can you Stand the Rain is a beautiful ballad written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis? This is a ballad about weathering the storms during a tumultuous relationship. Jimmy Jam explained:
“We wanted to have a song that introduced Johnny Gill as part of the New Edition, and then have Ralph [Tresvant], who was the familiar voice, takes the song home, and also use Ricky [Bell], who at the time hadn’t done a lot of lead vocals. We even used Michael Bivins on a little piece where he says, “Come on baby, let’s go get wet”.
So we tried to utilize all the guys in the group in order to introduce Johnny Gill. We wanted to create a song within the same genre of the Stylistics “You Make Me Feel Brand New,’ where the low voice comes in and then the high voice takes over.”
11. Bob Dylan – Shelter From the Storm
“Shelter from the Storm” is full of Bob Dylan’s famous poetic lyrical storytelling, imagery, and of course his signature harmonica. If you’ve wondered why Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, this song is a good place to start. Storms can be a metaphor for many things in life, such as a major life change, or a difficult event.
A relationship that’s gone south, or even a literal storm. In Bob Dylan’s case, it was about his failed marriage to his wife Sara. While the small-town Minnesota-boy-at-heart found himself struggling in a turbulent whirlwind of fame, his relationship with Sara always centered on him.
She offered to help him out even when it felt like nobody else would and offered him shelter from the rock star storm that he was faced with.
12. Enya – Storms in Africa
“Storms in Africa” is a song by the Irish singer, songwriter and musician Enya recorded for her second studio album Watermark (1988) Storms. In Africa’ first appeared on Watermark in its original Gaelic version. The following year, Enya re-recorded the song with English lyrics and released the new version entitled Storms in Africa (Part II) as a single.
The single came out in June 1989, four months after the original deadline that was pushed because of Enya’s busy touring/promotional schedule. Some countries subsequently included Storms in Africa (Part II) as the last track on Watermark.
13. Prince – Purple Rain
Here are all the important facts about “Purple Rain” every fan should know. It was meant to be a country duet with Stevie Nicks! You read that right, “Purple Rain” was originally written as a country song, and was intended to be a collaboration with Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks.
According to Nicks, she received a 10- minute instrumental version of the song from Prince, with a request to write the lyrics, but she felt overwhelmed by the task. The album Purple Rain was actually the soundtrack to the first movie Prince made. The film won Prince an Oscar for Best Original Song Score and will remain in our hearts FOREVER.
14. REO Speedwagon – Riding the Storm Out
This melody was composed by the band’s guitarist, Gary Richrath. It was inspired by an episode when the band was on tour in Colorado. They were venturing out to their next gig when a snowstorm suddenly struck. As lead vocalist Kevin Cronin tells it, he and Richrath chose to throw caution to the wind by getting lost intentionally.
The snow got heavier, and they TRULY got lost, it transformed into a dangerous situation where they needed to “brave the tempest.” Richrath composed the tune a couple of days after the fact in light of their disaster.
15. Credence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
The song, Have you Ever Seen the Rain allegedly inspired by instrumental funk band Booker T. & the MG, who once opened for Creedence Clearwater Revival, changes between plainspoken English and rich poeticism. “I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain / Cornin’ down on a sunny day?” is simple, yet effective.
Expert Tip: The song features John Fogerty’s signature throaty snarl, as he airs his heartache and frustrations over the circumstances he finds himself in, “Someone told me long ago there’s a calm before the storm, I know, it’s been cornin’ for some time,”
16. Blind Melon – No Rain
Blind Melon bass player Brad Smith wrote this song before he formed the band. He had moved from Mississippi to Los Angeles, where he fell into a funk. Brad mentions: “The song is about not being able to get out of bed and find excuses to face the day when you have really, in a way, nothing.”
“No Rain” has an extremely captivating video highlighting a young lady wearing a silly bee costume. The “bee girl”, Heather DeLoach, was 10 years of age when she was featured in the video, making one of the most endearing impressions on MTV.
17. Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” written by Bob Dylan is actually a 7-minute anti-nuclear war song. It was based on an old folk ballad previously titled “Lord Randall” or “Lord Ronald,” in which a mother repeatedly questions her son (beginning with “Where have you been?”), leading him to reveal he has been poisoned.
The song ends when he falls dead to the ground. Dylan wrote: “‘Hard Rain” is a desperate kind of song. Every line in it is actually the start of a whole song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.
18. Led Zepplin – Rain Song
Based upon legend, this tune was brought into this world as a solution to George Harrison’s critique about how Led Zeppelin wasn’t creating enough compelling ballads. The languid, sensual essence of the song changes in the end with a sense of liberation, leaving darkness behind, with positivity restored, and a renewed sense of adventure and wisdom.
19. Burt Bacharach – Raindrops Keep Failin’ on My Head
“Raindrops Keep Failin’ on My Head” is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The positive, uplifting lyrics describe somebody who overcomes his troubles and worries by realizing that this too shall pass, “when the sunshine comes to greet me.”
20. Arthur Freed – Singing in the Rain
The tune was composed way before the film, “Singing in the Rain” by Arthur Freed, who turned out to be the top of the MGM melodic division. Taking us back to the 1920s, Freed was running a printed music shop in Seattle and on one occasion he saw a man immersed in a stormy downpour while he was walking past the shop window.
The scene inspired the following verses and turned into one of the great American classics.
Well, that wraps up our little journey about the Top 20 best songs about storms. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks to the love and dedication that these writers, music composers, and musicians gave to us, people can always put their problems into a better perspective when we can listen and relate to these songs about storms.
It becomes easy to see that even though life is hard, and sometimes gets outright tumultuous, even the clouds run out of rain.