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The Dark and Stormy Mixtape
Friday, August 26, 2011
East Coast residents are battening down the hatches to prepare for Hurricane Irene. Here are some songs to pass the time if the rain doesn't wash you (and your laptop) away this weekend.
SIDE A: The Calm before the Storm
Track 1: "The Four Seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi – Get into the mood for a dark, stormy thunderstorm by queuing up the final movement of the "Summer" violin concerto in this set of four Vivaldi Baroque pieces composed in 1723.
Track 2: "Stormy Weather" by Lena Horne – Singer, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne died last May. She was 92. Horne, who grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, sang "Stormy Weather" and played the sultry lead in the 1943 film of the same name.
Track 3: "Singin' in the Rain by Gene Kelly – Gene Kelly was one of the directors, leads and choreographers of the 1952 film classic "Singin' in the Rain." And of course, he makes rain sound wonderful with lyrics like: "I'm laughing at clouds/So dark up above/The sun's in my heart/And I'm ready for love."
Track 4: "It's Raining Men" by The Weather Girls – Martha Wash and Izora Armstead (and later Rupaul) put this song on the charts in 1982. They've got better sources than most journalists: "Humidity is rising - Barometer's getting low/According to our sources, the street's the place to go/Cause tonight for the first time/Just about half-past ten/For the first time in history/It's gonna start raining men."
Track 5: "Blame It On the Rain" by Milli Vanilli – This lip-syncing duo had three memorable hits: "Baby Don't Forget My Number," "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You" and the 1989 single "Blame It On the Rain." The lyrics are simple but feel-good: "Whatever you do don't put the blame on you/Blame it on the rain yeah yeah/You can blame it on the rain/'Cause the rain don't mind." Done and done!
Track 6: "Purple Rain" by Prince – "Stormy Weather" and "Singin' in the Rain" aren't the only classic flics that make soggy, stormy nights digable. The 1984 film and soundtrack to "Purple Rain" features the unforgettable title track, along with the hits "When Doves Cry" and "I Would Die 4 U." Thank you Prince and The Revolution!
Track 7: "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses – If "Purple Rain" is not your style, may we suggest this (in)famous ballad. The 1992 hit penned by Axl Rose features over-the-top, but touching lines like, "Nothin' lasts forever and we both know hearts can change/And it's hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain."
Track 8: "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival – Whether this song is about the bombs raining down in Vietnam or CCR falling apart at the seams, John Fogarty's roots rock anthem is poignant: "Someone told me long ago, there's a calm before the storm/I know, and it's been comin' for some time./When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day./I know, shinin' down like water." The song was released on the 1970 album Pendulum.
Track 9: "Rain Over Me" by Pitbull featuring Marc Antony – The blue-eyed Cuban-American rapper Pitbull released "Rain Over Me" this past June. We recommend listening to the dance electro pop song while watching the song's video, in which Pitbull and Marc Antony are drenched with rain in the desert alongside snakes, scorpions, a chopper and lots of black leather. Boys will be boys!
Track 10: "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z – One thing's for sure: you wouldn't have to ask me twice to stand under an umbrella with Rihanna. Bring on the rain! She and HOV won a Grammy for their teamwork on the 2007 hit, which spent weeks at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts.
SIDE B: Riding out the Storm
Track 11: "Introduction of Players/Eye of the Hurricane" by Herbie Hancock – The V.S.O.P. Quintet (Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams) toured with Herbie Hancock in the '70s and '80s, and together, they recorded the live album V.S.O.P. in 1976. The record includes an 18-minute plus version of "Introduction of Players/Eye of the Hurricane," which was written by the jazz keyboard master himself, and one of Hancock's best-known works, "Maiden Voyage."
Track 12: "Hurricane" by Bob Dylan – Dylan wrote "Hurricane" with Jacques Levy in 1975 after meeting Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in prison. The Paterson, N.J. man had been sentenced to life behind bars for committing murder. Dylan's protest anthem begins with, "Here comes the story of the Hurricane/The man the authorities came to blame/For something that he never done." It has since been featured in a film about Carter's life, Dazed and Confused" and in an episode of "Family Guy."
Track 13: "Rock You Like A Hurricane" by The Scorpions – While "Wind of Change" remains my favorite song by this German metal band, the 1984 power ballad "Rock You Like A Hurricane" is a close second. It features lyrics like: "On the hunt tonight/For love at first sting/Here I am, rock you like a hurricane." Yowza! Wait, it gets better. The video includes panthers, lots of glam rock eye makeup and some crazy cryogenics towards the end.
Track 14: Jimmy Buffet's "Trying To Reason with Hurricane Season" and "Surfing In A Hurricane" – Buffet moved to Key West, Florida in the '70s, which may explain why he has not one, but two songs that explicitly refer to hurricanes. "Trying To Reason with Hurricane Season" comes from the 1974 album named after the Fla. state road A1A. "Surfing In A Hurricane," which we hope no one will attempt to actually do, comes from the 2009 album Buffet Hotel.
Track 15: "El Huracan del Caribe" (The Hurricane of the Caribbean) by Arturo Sandoval – The Cuban ex-pat jazz trumpeter and keyboard player recorded this song in 2007. It comes from Sandoval's Grammy Award-winning album Rumba Palace. Get out your dancing shoes for the song's big band jazz sound, which has a traditional Cuban twist.
Track 16: "Like A Hurricane" by Neil Young – The chorus of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" is a serious earworm, of only the best sort: "You are like a hurricane/There's calm in your eye./And I'm gettin' blown away/To somewhere safer/where the feeling stays./I want to love you but/I'm getting blown away." The song was released in 1977 on American Stars 'N Bars. The younger set may be more familiar with Adam Sandler's cover of the song.
Track 17: "Hurricane Drunk" by Florence + the Machine – Here's how "Hurricane Drunk" starts off: "No walls can keep me protected,/No sleet - nothing between me and the rain./And you can't save me now, I'm in the grip of a hurricane./I'm going to blow myself away." Well, we hope that's just poetic license since the English indie pop group has just gotten started! "Hurricane Drunk" comes from the band's debut album, Lungs (2009).
Track 18: "Cyclone" by Baby Bash featuring T-Pain – The Mexican-American rapper Baby Bash released his third album, Cyclone, in 2007. Guests on the title track include Mickaël and Mr. Auto Tune himself, T-Pain. Check out the song's video to see Bash, T-Pain and the girls at the club doing the Cyclone.
Track 19: "Wasn't That A Mighty Storm" by Nancy Griffith – Griffith's twangy cover of the spiritual about the Hurricane of 1900 that killed thousands of Galveston, Texas residents is really worth listening to. She sings, "Rain it was a' falling/Thunder began to roll/Lightning flashed like hell fire/The wind began to blow/Death the cruel master/When the wind to blow/Rode in on a team of horses/I cried,'Death, won't you let me go.'" Griffith released the song on her 1998 album Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back To Bountiful).
Track 20: "Goodnight Irene" by Huddy "Lead Belly" Ledbetter – This American folk standard was first recorded by Lead Belly in 1932, and subsequently by performed by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Little Richard and Ry Cooder, among others. Which Irene was the muse for this early 20th-century song is unclear, but this week, the name has taken on a new meaning for East Coast residents preparing for Hurricane Irene to churn north.
The Dark and Stormy Mixtape Honorable Mentions include:
- "Hurricane" by Keith Richards & Rolling Stones
- "Ridin' The Storm Out" by REO Speedwagon
- "Riders on The Storm" by The Doors
- "Quiet Storm" by Smokey Robinson
- "Storm Front" by Billy Joel
- "I've Been In The Storm Too Long" by Aretha Franklin and Joe Ligon
- "The Storms of Life" by Randy Travis
- "After the Storm" by Mumford and Sons
- "No Rain" by Blind Melon
- "Standing in the Rain" by Al Green
- "Hurricane Betsy" by Sam Lightnin' Hopkins
- "The Tide Is High" by The Paragons
- "Hurricane" by The Click
Thanks to the following WNYC staffers for their help in putting this mixtape together: Carolina Miranda, Julia Furlan, Joy Wang, Xana O'Neill, Caitlin Thompson and Kathleen Ehrlich. Also, shout-outs to some of our favorite weather-music savvy tweeters: @thebobartlett, @slarkpope, @gotreadgo, @joshsternberg, @vidalia, @andyinabox, @nanettelepore, @brooklynreader, @George_Haines and @rafaelgallegos.
What's your favorite inclement weather song? Please let us know by posting a comment below.