Into each life some rain must fall

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
All rights reserved.

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This entry was posted in Music history, Music programming, Piano performance, Volunteering and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Into each life some rain must fall

  1. Judie says:

    You just brightened up my day! I have only seen parts of Gene Kelly singing “Dancing in the Rain”. What a treat to see the complete version.

  2. Jean says:

    One of my favorite movies and songs! It just makes me smile. Thanks Paulette.

  3. Riff Noggin says:

    Impossible to feel anything but happy reading this post, Paulette! Seeing the clip is a reminder of how remarkable that scene was – imagine dancing in all that water, in wet heavy clothes, and projecting such upbeat energy! And how anemic those 1960-70s songs are in comparison to those on your program. Oh to be in the audience for one of your April gigs 🙂

    • Yes, a truly amazing production… Debbie Reynolds has talked about how difficult it was for her to keep up with Gene Kelly when filming the dance sequences of that movie — and she was 20 years younger than Kelly!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    A sweet little rain song from a later era is “Little April Shower” from Bambi. I like your cheerful list and it’s easy to imagine how well your audience responded.

  5. Aunt Evie says:

    Now I hope you can work in Fred Astaire with his top hat and tails. It’s my favorite. I’m sure this performance was appreciated with the lousy Michigan weather. They should all retire to Florida (just kidding–we have enough here!)

    • I’m sure I can find a way to work in a Fred Astaire clip in some future post. His dance style is such an interesting contrast to Gene Kelly’s. Michigan doesn’t seem so bad today — the sun is shining!

  6. Sandy Shores says:

    What a GREAT blog, Paulette! How fun to watch Gene Kelly again, even though I have that movie in my collection! After reading your blog, I certainly have a lilt in my step!!!

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