My long-time listeners know I slip in the occasional song to acknowledge the weather. I might play Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies” when the sun shines, or “Button Up Your Overcoat” on cold, blustery days (I played that one a lot this winter).
On a wet, gloomy April day like yesterday, the mood in an assisted living center can be heavy and dull, so I often start with “Singin’ in the Rain,” sung and danced by Gene Kelly in the 1952 film by the same name. I take the repeat, because it’s irresistible. See for yourself:
Next, “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy Rainy Day,” a vaudeville song from 1928. My audience quickly notices where I’m going with my theme. The mood in the room brightens. There’s more:
- “April Showers” – Al Jolson sang this in the 1921 musical Bombo. The arrangement I have features a shimmery descending run in the right hand, suggesting gently falling rain.
- “A Garden in the Rain” – Introduced by crooner Gene Austin in 1928, popular again in 1952 thanks to a recording by The Four Aces. Diana Krall has also done her part to make this a jazz standard.
- “It Looks Like Rain in Cherry Blossom Lane” – A hit for Guy Lombardo in 1937, with his brother, Lebert, on vocals.
- “Pennies from Heaven” – Every time it rains, it rains pennies from heaven… sung by Bing Crosby in the movie with the same title. It’s a song about Depression-era optimism, going through difficult times to appreciate the good when it comes. The way we appreciate spring in the Midwest when it finally appears.
- “Isn’t This a Lovely Day (to Be Caught in the Rain)” – From the 1935 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers film Top Hat.
- “Here’s That Rainy Day” – A 1953 torch song by Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen.
- “Don’t Rain on My Parade” – Sung by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
- “The Rain in Spain” – From My Fair Lady, the scene when Eliza Doolittle has a break-through moment with her elocution lessons and Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering dance and sing in celebration (I think she’s got it! By George, she’s got it…).
- “Stormy Weather” – A blues classic from 1933, most closely associated with Ethel Waters and Lena Horne.
Of course, I could find plenty more rain-themed songs if I ventured into the 1960s and 70s: “Early Morning Rain,” “Kentucky Rain,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Rainy Night in Georgia.” But I’ve learned that my elderly audiences don’t warm to that era. So, since April showers bring May flowers, I finish my rain set with the 1929 tune “Tip Toe Through the Tulips.” Despite Tiny Tim’s trilling falsetto rendition in 1968, they still like it.
Copyright © 2014 by Paulette Bochnig Sharkey
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