20 September 2011

Real Country Rain

I'll remember my four years in Seattle as an introduction to near constant rain and and what, in the parlance of Crazy Heart at least, might be called "real country" music (note: this preference for "real country" is not totally hard and fast). The most satisfying of my dissatisfying Seatown day jobs involved sitting in a room entering information into spreadsheets while listening to six or seven hours of Pandora radio (to be fair, this job also involved unlimited free caffeinated beverages and daily MarioKart Wii tournaments). While I've crafted rock, hip hop and electronica stations, the country one always gets the most play (despite the algorithm's unquenchable desire to include an hourly John Denver track). Now, as a song by Billy Bob Thornton plays, I give you the Seattlest songs I've thumbed up...

Brandon Rhyder "I Love the Rain"

This one is pretty embarrassing. The absurd personification of a natural phenomenon. The obvious choices in rhyme. The improper use of the subjunctive tense. The presence of actual rain sound effects. For these reasons I first resisted liking the song and waited, in that paradoxical Pandoran way, to hear it again before succumbing to the thumbs up button. I'm still impatient with Brandon but that second verse and the lines "she reminds me of a woman I knew / how she would brood over little things," give me that ideal mixture of nostalgia and regret--the ultimate achievement of any country song. (And this video obviously gets a bonus point for the presence of a wet Gosling.)

Steve Earle "The Rain Came Down"

Steve Earle is a more acceptable real country figure and this song is right in his wheelhouse. Listening to it I can embrace the vague sense of my family's agrarian past while also drumming on my desk. I loved imagining defending my 300-square-foot studio from the Man--"you ain't takin' my land!" This workmanlike tone made Earle playlists the best for washing dishes as well.

Patty Griffin "Rain"


From the number of incorrectly ascribed YouTube versions of this song, apparently Patty Griffin sounds just like Norah Jones. But clearly the animated guitar lady above has red hair and is speaking directly to me about irreconcilable differences. I can't think of a more recursive line for my time in Seattle than "I don't wanna beg you baby / for something maybe you could never give." I just want another chance to live (in a somewhat drier climate).

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