As you may have heard, our sleepy little hamlet of Los Angeles got some rain over the past week. I assume you heard this because Los Angeles is the center of the world and our weather is likely reported everywhere, especially when we get rain, which lesser cities take for granted. More rain is forecast for this week.
If you were near a radio in the United States in 1972, you heard Albert Hammond’s hit single “It Never Rains in Southern California,” and learned that while in L.A. it never rains, it pours. Man, it pours.
Today’s playlist consists of songs with word rain or some variation thereof in the title. It includes Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains in Southern California,” one of two top forty singles Hammond had as an artist. (The other was 1974’s “I’m a Train.” Remember that one? Didn’t think so.) As a songwriter, Hammond’s hits include The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe,” Leo Sayer’s “When I Need You,” Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time,” Chicago’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love,” Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around,” Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson’s “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” and The Pipkins’ “Gimme Dat Ding.” His son is a founding member of The Strokes.
Back to the weather. Get your umbrella and enjoy today’s playlist while the sun is still shining.
In February 2002 my friend Sophie and I auditioned to be the hosts of a new US television series based on the successful UK show Pop Idol. On American Idol, amateur singers competed against each other and the public voted for the winner.
I’ve never seen American Idol. It’s not because I’m bitter I didn’t get the job. I have a different opinion than many of the show’s viewers as to what constitutes good singing. Being loud and hitting high notes do not necessarily make for great singing. A great singer is expressive, feeling the words they are singing. Aretha Franklin and Adele are two singers who can belt and hit a wide range of notes. They also know when to sing softly or when not to let vocal gymnastics get in the way of the song. They are great singers. Bob Dylan and Tom Waits are also great singers. They own their material. They feel their material. They live their material (more accurately, the personas they put forth for each song lives the material).
Dylan and Waits are also great songwriters. Dylan is the better-known of the two, but as today is Waits’ birthday, I’m going to focus on him. His songs have been recorded by a diverse group of artists, including Elvis Costello, Eagles, The Ramones, Johnny Cash, The Pogues, Solomon Burke, Steve Earle, Marianne Faithfull, The Neville Brothers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen and Neko Case, the latter two appearing on today’s playlist with Waits covers. His sole US top forty hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was not as an artist, but as the writer of “Downtown Train,” which Rod Stewart took to the top ten in 1990.
Today’s Tom Waits-inspired playlist kicks off with the singer-songwriter’s version of that one hit. Enjoy!