The local forecast is one of the easiest things for people to talk about. Whether the sky is clear or there’s a deluge of rain coming, humans bond when observing it all occur.
Songwriters also find inspiration in the skies. Read on for the best songs about the weather!
1. Singin’ In the Rain” by Gene Kelly
Song year: 1952
Perhaps the most famous song about the weather dates back to the 1950s, the golden age of the Broadway musical. Though rain typically brings to mind sad emotions, Hollywood turned the stereotype on its head with Gene Kelly’s bubbly song-and-dance number.
His performance, complete with umbrella choreography, is a jubilant celebration of life. The lyrics are about feelings of happiness, illustrated by Kelly’s willingness to splash in puddles and get thoroughly soaked.
“Singin’ in the Rain” is a metaphor for staying positive despite life’s troubles. Underscored by an up-tempo orchestration, this classic tune inspires joy in any listener, even in weather that’s less than ideal.
2. “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles
Song year: 1969
This beloved tune opens with a cheery guitar riff and a blanket of strings, sounding like the glow of a sunrise. It’s one that’s covered often, done most notably in later years by Nina Simone and Richie Havens. In 2021, it was Spotify’s most-streamed Beatles song.
Unlike most of the band’s other hits, “Here Comes the Sun” was written by George Harrison (rather than Paul McCartney or John Lennon). The lyrics are that of a lover telling his beloved that winter is past, ice is melting, and sun is on its way. The words could also be interpreted as a reassurance that hard times are past and there’s hope for the future.
3. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Frank Sinatra
Song year: 1945
This song is an annual December favorite in climates where they can expect a white Christmas. But its origin is in California, as its writers wished for cooler conditions during a heat wave in the 1940s. Ironically, it doesn’t even mention Christmas anywhere in the lyrics!
Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and other singers of the big band/swing era brought “Let It Snow” to the mainstream, and it quickly became a staple of its genre. The carefree message of fun amid winter weather is catchy and easy to sing along with. Its seasonal popularity shows no sign of letting up, making us think this song will be around for many years to come.
4. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland
Song year: 1939
Another standard of the classic Hollywood era, this song first made its appearance in The Wizard of Oz, and hasn’t declined in popularity since. It’s one of the most recognizable tunes in cinematic history, and has been covered by dozens of other artists after a young onscreen Garland first introduced it to the world.
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is best known for its soaring melody line, which travels the range of a full descending scale throughout the chorus. Strings give it depth and chimed percussion lends some sparkle. The wistful lyrics are an ode to restlessness, comparing bluebirds in flight to the singer’s pull towards the unknown that lies just beyond the colorful arch in the sky.
5. “Beautiful Day” by U2
Song year: 2000
The Irish alt-rock band fronted by Bono gave us this gem on their turn-of-the-century album All That You Can’t Leave Behind. Singing of clear skies and the promise of a bright future, the lyrics encourage a directionless listener to move forward and seize the day.
“Beautiful Day” was a commercial hit, seeing radio success across the world. It reached the top ten in the U.S., New Zealand, and several European countries, and helped send the album multiplatinum.
Winning three Grammys the year after its release, the band decided to perform it at every one of their live shows, giving it even more worldwide appeal.
6. “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls
Song year: 1982
This campy song is a favorite of karaoke singers and drag queens everywhere. Celebrating all different kinds of men, the mildly risque lyrics caused several iconic artists (including Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand) to turn down the opportunity to record it first.
Instead, a lesser-known duo called The Two Tons won the honor. Due to the first line where they introduce themselves as “The Weather Girls,” the band needed to change their name after the song got popular.
Its contagious mix of disco, R&B, and piano-driven electronic dance-pop pushed it to number one in the U.S. charts. VH1 included it on their list as one of the Greatest Songs of the 1980s.
7. “A Foggy Day” by Tony Bennett
Song year: 1937
Penned by the Gershwin brothers for the film A Damsel In Distress, this tune went the same route as many others of its time, covered by nearly every jazz crooner of the 1940s and 1950s. Bennett performed it along with other Great American Songbook titles for his 1994 album MTV Unplugged.
The words tell a story of someone wandering through the streets of London, trying to decide what to do. Despondent and lost, they suddenly see the object of their affection through the fog, and their spirits lift with hope.
8. “The Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks
Song year: 1991
Thunder, lightning, and a summer night with no moon—this song is full of outdoor imagery. The mysterious guitar riff and sparse instrumentation add to the feeling of solitude the narrator describes. As the story unfolds, we find out that he’s out late because he was having an affair. The thunder is a parallel to the ominous sound in the music due to his cheating.
“Thunder Rolls” was Brooks’ sixth number one hit but he wasn’t the first to claim it. Tanya Tucker recorded a version with an additional, more harrowing fourth verse where the narrator is murdered. Later, All That Remains included a cover of the song on their album Madness.
9. “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed
Song year: 1972
Many songs use weather as a metaphor, or to help illustrate other things happening. That’s certainly the case here, with Reed’s down-tempo dirge describing a beautiful day in the park with his sweetheart. He reminisces over what a good time they had together before she left him (or so it’s implied).
The tune was written and recorded in the 1970s but experienced a revival in popularity after appearing on the Trainspotting soundtrack in 1996. It has also featured in ads for AT&T and Sony, as well as several TV shows including Fear the Walking Dead and, most recently, the HBO series “Our Flag Means Death.”
10. “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
Song year: 1977
Another 1970s classic, this is the single that made Fleetwood Mac famous in the U.S., reaching number one on the pop charts. It also enjoyed some popularity in the UK and Canada. Rolling Stone magazine ranked “Dreams” number nine on their list of “The Greatest Songs Of All Time.”
The chorus likens attention from a lover to stormy weather, stating that rain is the reason for thunder. Its parallel is that a lover can be affectionate when they’re trying to get what they want from you.
A mid-tempo, singable melody and tight three-part harmonies make this song about weather a staple for the British-American band.
11. “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Dolly Parton
Song year: 1977
Like so much of the “Queen of Country’s” music, this tune speaks of hope in difficult times. Parton has said that she was inspired to write it (as well as “I Will Always Love You”) after her public break with her friend and business partner, Porter Wagoner.
“Light of a Clear Blue Morning” begins as a simple country song, but eventually develops into a full-blown celebration of life, complete with multiple instrumental textures and a gospel choir. Parton recorded it for two different albums and also as a release in her 1992 movie Straight Talk.
The message of optimism resounds with anyone going through tough times, and makes for a great addition to a morning playlist.
12. “November Rain” by Guns and Roses
Song year: 1992
Nothing lasts forever, and people’s feelings toward each other can change. That is the premise of the 90s rock hits, one of the best songs with weather in the title out there. It featured a story of a couple after a breakup. As with so many songs featuring gloomier circumstances, the rain represents the sadness the lovers feel when their relationship doesn’t last.
This iconic song was extraordinary for its run time of just under ten minutes. Regardless of its unusual length, it reached number three on the U.S. charts, and had popularity in the UK and Portugal. The equally-famous music video that accompanies the music shows a montage of scenes from a wedding, as if the singer is re-living the happy times from their prior marriage.
13. “Thunder and Lightning Polka” by Johann Strauss
Song year: 1868
An absence of lyrics doesn’t necessarily mean a piece of music can’t have weather associations! This bit of canonic classical repertoire for symphony orchestra features woodwind runs, string scales, and a generally bombastic texture to illustrate the chaos of a storm. Cymbal crashes accentuate places in the score to indicate lightning bursts.
This fast-paced polka is one of Strauss’ most recognizable in modern symphony programs. However, it got its start in the late 19th Century as a favorite choice in dance halls. Presumably, as fun for the musicians to play as it is for the dancers to follow, the sparkling atmospheric references make this piece come alive no matter where it’s featured.
14. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by Burt Bacharach
Song year: 1969
The sing-song melody and lazy swing rhythm make this tune a well-known favorite, even after many decades. Originally written for the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid soundtrack, it gained in popularity even after the movie’s release, and charted in the US., Canada, Norway, and the UK.
Winner of an Oscar for Best Original Song, composer Bacharach also earned Best Original Score the same year. However, it was B.J. Thomas’ voice that made the most recognizable version. The song is so well-loved that it’s been covered by dozens of other artists since the 1970s.
15. “Like a Hurricane” by Neil Young
Song year: 1977
One of Young’s most well-known songs dates from the mid-1970s and features his signature rock guitars for a long lead section in the middle. The multilayered guitar tones and vocal line combine for an intense blanket of sound, perhaps illustrating the cacophony of a hurricane.
“Like a Hurricane” was released on Young’s 1977 album American Stars n’ Bars, and became one of his biggest hits. He often performed it with Crazy Horse, who was his backing band for much of his career (though they appeared without him as well).
The lyrics compare a girl the singer is in love with to a violent storm. There are also references to fire, fog, and the moon, making it a tune that references weather but only in a metaphorical sense. The love he has for the girl means that he feels peace when he is with her—a veritable eye of the hurricane—but experiences tumultuous feelings when they’re apart.
16. “Sun Is Shining” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
Song year: 1971
If any musical group knows how to illustrate the summer sun, it’s a reggae band. This slow, island-infused song practically pours warm weather over listeners. Ocean waves and a cocktail in hand seem to be a fitting complement to the beach vibes here.
“Sun is Shining” was re-released multiple times, first on a soul compilation album, then on Marley’s own recordings, and finally as a remix dance track in 1999. That version climbed the U.S. charts, and also reached number three in the UK.
As the words to the song mention, the sun is out and there’s great weather (even a rainbow!), so enjoy your experience.
17. “The Lightning I, II” by Arcade Fire
Song year: 2022
Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire is known for having a huge instrumental lineup and delivering energetic live shows. This song off their album We is no exception, featuring thick sonic textures and multiple layers to create a swirling effect reminiscent of a storm.
The words are that of one lover pleading to another not to give up on their relationship. A black sky is referenced, symbolizing their disagreement, as he hopes that they can reconcile. In a literal sense, the couple also sits on top of a mountain, watching the clouds part with the expectation of seeing lightning.
18. “Fog (Again)” by Radiohead
Song year: 2003
These lyrics are somewhat obtuse, but appear to refer to the fog as confusion regarding someone’s identity. There is also actual fog that rises from a sewer, which harbors baby alligators.
The music is intimate, with just a piano supporting the vocal line. “Fog (Again)” is a track off of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief album. While not one of their most popular songs, it holds its own as part of the band’s repertoire.
19. “Lightning Crashes” by Live
Song year: 1994
This 90s grunge-rock favorite presents an intense scene. A mother gives birth, the baby crying out for the first time, while a storm rages outside. The lightning accentuates the drama of the cycle of life happening within the walls where mother and baby lay.
“Lightning Crashes” got a surprising amount of radio airplay for its length, taking a journey from an intimate ballad to expansive arena rock. Over several minutes, the band builds and the singer’s voice grows louder, until it culminates in a few soft chords to end the story.
20. “It’s a Sunshine Day” by The Brady Bunch
Song year: 1972
This upbeat ode to beautiful weather includes a skippy beat and the many voices of the fictional Brady Bunch family. Though it didn’t see much commercial success, it remains a favorite of the show’s fans.
Rife with positivity, laughter, and the rays of the sun, it’s impossible to listen to this song and not feel as though the day is going to brighten.
21. “Fog on the Tyne” by Lindisfarne
Song year: 1971
Our final inclusion on this list is another nod to fog, so, naturally, the best place to look is notoriously gray London. This folk-rock band from the UK borrowed its name from the tiny island off the coast of England.
This track is the last on the album of the same name. Its lyrics are a combination of a bright, singsongy chorus, and alliterative nonsense words that make up the verses.
Top Songs About the Weather, Final Thoughts
Though it’s no secret that many songs about the weather originate from the folk movement of the 1970s, there are references in just about every music genre.
Rock, pop, reggae, and classical provide just a few examples of how weather conditions can influence a songwriter. And with so many types of weather that can happen, it’s no surprise that we get to hear about them all!