Sunday, June 27, 2021

Let's Sing About the Lovely Rain!

At the moment we talk a lot about language and bias, and a lot about the climate and weather, but we rarely talk about these together. The next couple of days will be the hottest on record here in the Pacific Northwest, and it makes me wonder about this.

The overwhelming bias in the songs I know is that sunshine is good and rain is bad. Perhaps this is typical in lots of places? Or maybe I have biased sample rattling around in my head?

To check something slightly more general that my own memory, I found these two playlists on the same music site:



Take a look and you'll see an overwhelming correlation between sunshine and good times and between rain and bad times. Not every song - there are some songs that express some fondness for the rain, or something that happened while it was raining - but the trend is clear.

I wonder if this trend holds throughout other musical traditions? Or is it another way in which cold wet parts of the North Atlantic are dramatically overrepresented? (Side note - in the myth of Persephone and Hades, we just assume that this corresponds to northern Europe's summer vs winter myths, but some return of fertility celebrations were late autumn when it starts raining, not when it gets warmer - see e.g., Thesmophoria.)

Either way, with increasing heatwaves and droughts, we should change the way we think about this! I don't expect that singing more songs in praise of rainfall will persuade the rain gods to rain on us - but I do think that we should be more aware that too much sunshine can be devastating, and freshwater that falls from the sky is a life-giving treasure.