It rains a lot in Scotland. Average annual rainfall here in Glasgow clocks in at 1,190mm (47.3 inches), with no dry season. A sunny day is a rare and blessed event, where it seems everyone casts off considerations like work and clothing (to the extent that it’s decent), to bask in the glorious, if short-lived, dose of Vitamin D.
I don’t mean to be facetious. Having been in Glasgow a few weeks now, I think the Scottish must be a tough, weather-proof people. One can dress for the elements, but the constancy of precipitation and the often dreary-grey sky must either weigh on the conscience or strengthen its resilience. Maybe both. Perhaps this is the source of the Scots’ famous warmth, humour, and hospitality. Ya can’t beat it, so ya might as well see the funny side.
That said, rain appears across a few of this country’s fine pop music hits. Is this a reflection of national psyche? An obvious metaphor that we can all relate to? Or perhaps just an impetus to stay in and create? Regardless, let’s look at a few of those wet-weather tunes:
Why Does It Always Rain On Me | Travis
Formed in Glasgow in 1990, Travis saw an long evolution in lineup and sound before beginning in earnest as we know them today. Since finding their feet in 1994, Fran Healy, Dougie Payne, Andy Dunlop, and Neil Primrose have released seven studio albums, charted a number of singles, won various awards, and wrote the blueprint for similar-vibed bands such as Coldplay and Keane. The popular single, “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” featured on 1999s The Man Who, but it wasn’t immediately a hit. Nature, it may be said, played a hand: When the band performed at the Glastonbury Festival that year, they came onstage to greet an audience who had been dry for hours. With the opening line of “Why,” a cascade of rain broke forth and made for the best possible PR; the resulting buzz propelled the album to #1 on the UK charts. This, their international breakthrough single, was written while Healy vacationed in Israel, reportedly taking sunny respite from the incessant Glasgow rains.
I’m Only Happy When It Rains | Garbage
Garbage is a mostly-American band fronted by Edinburgh’s Shirley Manson. Invited to audition for Garbage while on tour with her Scottish band Angelfish, Manson fared poorly at her first audition. Angelfish soon collapsed, so Manson organized another, more successful try. The band’s self-titled 1995 debut was released to critical and popular acclaim, charting a number of hits and attracting numerous awards. A standout single, “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” parodies the angst-y themes popular in the mid-90s; the band has claimed that it also references the title of Edinburgh’s Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1987 single, “Happy When it Rains,” alongside Manson’s Scottish psyche. No further insight is given into said psyche, but one supposes that the song says it. While Garbage, the album, sold in excess of four million copies, Garbage, the band, went on to write and record the theme to the James Bond film, The World is Not Enough, making Manson the third Scotswoman, after Lulu and Sheena Easton, to sing a Bong theme.
Here Comes The Rain Again | The Eurythmics
Aberdeen, Scotland’s Annie Lennox, along with musical partner Dave Stewart, were a dominating musical force in 1980s as The Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), anyone?) In 1984 the duo released another in a series of massive hits, “Here Comes the Rain Again,” with rain as melancholic metaphor for unrequited love. The lyrics were inspired after an argument during a songwriting session, when Lennox looked out the window and noted (I imagine dryly, and with resignation), “here comes the rain again.” The corresponding video was shot in the Orkney Islands, far in the north of Scotland and themselves no stranger to the rain. While The Eurythmics have never officially disbanded, Lennox carved a formidable solo career in the 90s. Besides garnering heaps of musical accolades and awards, she is an honourary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London (where in the 70s she studied flue, piano, and harpsichord on scholarship), a fellow of The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and holds the Order of the British Empire. Lennox continues to record and perform, but is also renowned for her extensive humanitarian work.
On that note, it’s sunny in Glasgow! I hope you love this post, but keep your rain dances to yourselves today, please!