Editor's Note: it has been a few days since I started this post. Where I live, the storm did not achieve original predictions, my basement "flooding" consisting of mere rivulets that I was mostly able to wipe up with a towel. Still, the impetus for this post had me looking for a great batch of related songs, so I'll carry on with the original concept.
It has been a strange, rainy October around here, not typical at all. Right about the time when we might be expecting an Indian Summer, instead we've been getting a fairly regular soaking over the past several days.
Tonight, we await a long, fierce storm that continues to make its way from the west. The storm has already brought tornadoes and punishing winds, as well torrents of rain.
Tonight, I have preparing my basement for the inevitable flooding that will occur. Maybe it won't be deep, but it will be wet. And with the ground already wet, we don't really have any way to stop it.
If what happens to my basement is the worst thing that happens in this area, that will be just fine. Recent years have brought too many storms, devastations and deaths, floods and downed trees, and I imagine all of us feel a certain amount of trepidation when a major storm approaches.
Still, I have to try to find s little bit of good news in all of this imminent water: we are trying to grow grass in our backyard and it was seeded a week ago. Now, if the seed has rooted. Another dose of rain could be great; if it hasn't, our seedlings will be washed to who knows where.
But on to the music. For those of us aging rockers, music has provided a soundtrack to so many events--painful teenage breakups, holidays, car trips, rites of passage. Tonight, as I'm thinking of all of the rain and potential flooding headed this way, I realize that such storms have provided the basis of any number of great songs. And while I know this would be more effective if we could all click on the songs, I still offer my favorite storm songs (some winched in to fit contextually).
1. "Stormy Monday"--the Allman Brothers' version. The storm here is emotional, the beginning of a long week where something goes wrong most every day. Along with Derek and The Dominoes, this song introduced me to the blues.
2. + 3. "Texas Flood" and "Couldn't Stand The Weather" from Stevie Ray Vaughn. The full range of Vaughn's genius in just a pair of songs, one a cover with all the power of the original and more and the other a blues update with a riff built around a long pause (warning: not for beginning bands) that shows off the tightness of his band. And a blistering solo.
4. "Higher Ground" from the Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's CD, Wildflowers. One of those great Perty songs buried in the middle somewhere that just makes you say, "Holy shit, this rocks!"
5. "Rain" by The Beatles. One of John's greatest songs driven by Ringo's best drumming, a complicated pattern like no other. And one of John's most dismissive couplets: "When the rain comes, they run and hid their heads/ They might as well be dead."
6. "If I Had A Boat" by Lyle Lovett. And if I had a pony, I would ride upon my boat. Exactly.
7. "Shelter From The Storm" by Bob Dylan. Like "Tangled Up In Blue," another star-crossed lovers song with a killer, double-edged last line to every verse. "In a little hilltop village/ they gambled for my clothes." Only Dylan can get away with that one.
8. "South Central Rain" by R.E.M. I have no way of knowing what an early R.E.M. (or late one) is about, but with a chorus of only one repeated word ("Sorry") this one achieves that mythic level of high art.
9. "Drowned" by The Who. A yearning, a cleansing, a primordial desire, an escape. Townshend loads the water with the full weight of symbolic possibility.
10. "I Don't Wanna Go Down To The Basement" from the first Ramones album. I don't what was in their basement, but I know what will be in mine, and it will involve fans, towels, dehumidifiers, mildew, and a whole lot of work.