Friday, October 9, 2009


“Fantasy is a place where it rains,” writes Italy Calvino in Six Memos for the Next Millennium (Vintage, 1988). His use of “rain” is figurative, of course; our “mind’s eye” is the movie screen upon which the imagination “rains” down the images that form our fantasies. “The mental cinema is always at work in each one of us, and it always has been, even before the invention of the cinema. Nor does it ever stop projecting images before our mind’s eye” (83). Rain—the Parisian rain that announces the dissolution of love, the end of Rick and Lisa’s relationship in Casablanca, metaphorically realized by the note from Ilsa Rick reads at the train station. Rain as sadness and melancholy: the implied link between “Rainy Days and Mondays” about which the Carpenters sing. Rain as adversity, as hard times, as the bad things in life, as in James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”

But what about the association of rain and fantasy, poetically rendered by the image of the introspective child staring out of a window as raindrops patter against the windowpane? There are many wonderful songs about rain (e.g., Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”), but the songs on the following playlist explore the connection between rain and fantasy, fantasy as a place where it is always raining. “Rainy Night in Georgia” does not simply express melancholy, but is also about the singer’s (Brook Benton’s) visual imagination, as is one of Elvis’s last truly great songs, “Kentucky Rain.” (Rain as anxiety.) For rain as the frustration of Erotic fulfillment (the Reality Principle), go here. My favorite? The Grateful Dead’s “Box of Rain.” Why? Well, as Louis Armstrong famously said, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.”

Fantasy As A Place Where It Rains:
The Beatles – Rain
Brook Benton – Rainy Night in Georgia
The Carpenters – Rainy Days and Mondays
The Cascades – Rhythm of the Rain
Eric Clapton – Let It Rain
The Cowsills – The Rain, The Park & Other Things
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Who’ll Stop the Rain?
The Doors – People Are Strange
Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Echo & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain
Peter Gabriel – Red Rain
The Grateful Dead – Box Of Rain
Willie Nelson – Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
The Police – Shadows in the Rain
Eddie Rabbit – I Love A Rainy Night
Prince and The Revolution – Purple Rain
Neil Sedaka – Laughter in the Rain
James Taylor – Fire and Rain
The The – Kingdom of Rain
XTC – 1,000 Umbrellas

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