Songs about droughts

The cvillenews.com blog has a link that illustrates that our region is about as starved for rain as anywhere in the Southeast. (The U.S. Drought Monitor presently lists 68 percent of the commonwealth as either amid a drought or abnormally dry.) Friends, this blog is prepared to do its part by, first, letting it mellow (if it’s yellow), and, second, by invoking the power of music. Here’s five songs about dry times.

The protagonist in Woody Guthrie’s "Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues" left his farm for Los Angeles when the "rain quit and the wind got high." In the end, the starving family eats a bowl of soup so thin you can read a magazine through it.

Australia’s grand balladeer—its answer to Guthrie—is Slim Dusty, whose earliest hit, "A Pub With No Beer," was about another kind of drought. "Old Man Drought" describes a land so dry that the "frogs are rising ten year old and haven’t learnt to swim." 

Earlier this year, Jackie Chan helped raise a reported $29 million for victims of a Chinese drought by writing and perfoming this song. There probably wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Dude can sing!

The thematic driver in many of Motown’s greatest songs is the disconnect between internal state and outward appearance—a poignant rift, considering the music’s context. To this tradition Smokey Robinson contributed "Tears of a Clown" and "Tracks of My Tears," and Undisputed Truth gave us "Smiling Faces Sometimes," but perhaps the best of all is The Temptation’s "I Wish it Would Rain" which explores the more cosmopolitan effects of a drought, as singer David Ruffin prays for a rain to disguise his teardrops.

In these times, "Water Runs Dry" by Boyz II Men reads as a poignant plea for H20 conservation. "Let’s don’t wait till the water runs dry," they sing in unison. "We might watch our whole lives pass us by." Marinate on this track and consider what you’ll do to save some water. 

Do you wish it would rain?

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