New Zealand has a temperate climate, which is a nice way of saying that it doesn’t get too ridiculously cold, but rains all winter long. As a result, most of our weather-inspired songs talk about rain rather than any other climatic event, so that’s where we’ll get started.
Sitting In The Rain
The Underdogs (1967)
Nothing suits a miserable mood like a bout of terrible weather and the narrator of this song purposefully seems to be sitting in the rain, because he’s feeling down about some relationship problems. Maybe he’s hoping his loved one will take pity on him? The track is a cover of song by blues legend John Mayall, but this version got a lot more attention at this end of the world and The Underdogs have added their own wry take to it.
Rain And Tears
The Hi-Revving Tongues (1969)
Of course, the similarities between rain and tears (and the fact that the latter can disguise the former) have been fodder for popular songs going right back to the Everly Brothers’ ‘Crying in the Rain' (and probably even before this). It wasn’t a fresh sentiment even back when this Hi-Revving Tongues track first came out, so the main surprising aspect of this track is how dissimilar it was to the rest of the band’s music. They were a psychedelic freak-out band but had their biggest hit (a No.1, no less) with this classic ballad:
Dragon hit the Top 10 on both sides of the Tasman with their song about heading overseas for better weather, ‘April Sun In Cuba’. However their later hit, ‘Rain’, hits a lot closer to our theme, with a heavy-handed use of weather metaphors from start to finish – “Ice on the window, ice in my heart, fooling with thunder every time we start.” It’s also impressive to recall that the song was came out after the band had been on hiatus for four years and was written without one of their primary songwriters (Paul Hewson). Yet Mark and Todd Hunter pulled out an impossibly catchy chorus hook for this track (writing with Todd’s wife, Johanna Pigott) and deservedly gained a No.2 slot on the Australian charts with it.
Outlook for Thursday
DD Smash (1983)
And while we’re on the subject of super-catchy eighties hits, we may as well throw in this one as well. Dave Dobbyn provides a full weather report as a metaphor for his relationship: “A weak ridge of pressure from the hinter to the heartland.” Clearly, if your relationship is as changeable as the local weather, then you’re in trouble. Fortunately Dobbyn has some sunshine in store for his loved one and gained 23 weeks on the local Top 40 for his troubles.
Straitjacket Fits (1988)
There’s plenty of songs on Flying Nun to choose from when it comes to bad weather (which might say something about the climate in Dunedin). The most obvious choice would be ‘Rain’ by The Chills, which is one of the only songs I’ll mention which literally seems to be about bad weather and happens to be a great song too (and roughly a decade later, they also had “Swimming in the Rain”). Or you could enjoy the cerebral rain metaphors used by The Verlaines (‘It Was Raining') or enjoy something entirely wacky by Jean-Paul Sartre Experience (‘I Like Rain’) – it doesn’t rain as much in Christchurch so the band were apparently able to be a bit more positive about the subject.) However, I’m going to leave aside all of these options in favour of a slice of brilliance from Straitjacket Fits. You have to wait until the end of the song, but the last line is enough to make them my choice for the list: “it’s hailing under your umbrella, but it’s clearing overhead.”
Upper Hutt Posse (1991)
Not sure if this next song has survived the test of time that well. It’s possibly better watched as a time capsule of when hip-hop in New Zealand was just getting going. And it's interesting to see that reggae was part of New Zealand hip-hop right from the start (long before Che Fu began mixing the genres). Though the best part of this video is probably the soulful singing of a young Teremoana Rapley:
Four Seasons In One Day
Crowded House (1992)
When it comes to Crowded House, there’s also a couple of choices and I’m going to have to pick the slightly less obvious one. It’s true that ‘Weather With You’ was a worldwide hit and drew on the hit-writing skills of both Tim and Neil Finn, but ‘Four Seasons In One Day’ has the most emotional heft. Every Aucklander knows what Neil is talking about when he sings about how "The sun is shining on the black clouds hanging over the Domain". Personally, when it gets to that line, I can’t help but feel goosebumps. Though apparently every Melbournite feels the same too (since they have a similar domain and iffy weather). I'm sure there's a domain in London too, but let's not question it too far. It’s also fitting that this was the first of their videos to actually be shot in New Zealand.
Listening For The Weather
Bic Runga (2002)
It makes sense for a New Zealander to compare the unpredictability of tomorrow’s weather to a more general sense of not knowing what the future holds (the metaphor wouldn’t work so well in Dubai). As a New Zealander, Bic Runga has clearly become resigned to the fact that bad weather is probably just around the corner: “The days are getting cold, but that’s alright with me.”
Turn From The Rain
The Veils (2013)
Finn Andrews seems equally resigned to face the bad weather ahead, since turning from the rain doesn’t really achieve very much. He uses this sentiment to make a larger point about the futility of trying to ignore the depressing parts of your life (such as "mummy’s heart and daddy’s cancers").
All About The Weather
Clap Clap Riot (2014)
As we’ve seen, it’s not a new idea to compare one’s relationship to the weather (in this case, because “it’s never getting better”), but Clap Clap Riot do a nice job of breathing new life into the trope. And this seems like a fitting last song since, after all, this list has been all about the weather:
So that’s the end of my list, though I’m sure there’s plenty more songs I could’ve included. It’s a fairly male-heavy list, so perhaps I should’ve included ‘Soviet Snow’ by Shona Laing. Or you might think I’ve been a bit rock-centric and should’ve tried to mix things up by including ‘Rain On The Roof’ by Che Fu or ‘Standing In The Rain’ by the Opensouls. So if you want to let me know what I’ve missed then do hit us up on our Facebook page (facebook.com/AudioCultureNZ). Maybe if you make a really good case, then I’ll switch out one of my suggestions for one of yours ...