The last few days in LA have been kind of gloomy – gloomy by LA standards anyway. I mean, it’s still no place for Ian Brady and Myra Hindley to stage a killing spree, but the clouds have been thick, grey and low, and wet, cool swirls of breeze pour through my window as I write this.
This is a good thing. This is a great thing! I did not move to LA for the weather. My idea of perfect weather is something akin to a cemetery scene in [insert gothic horror film here].
Recently, I found myself at yet another pool party where Industry types multi-tasked by schmoozing while sunbathing, enjoying tropical cocktails and posing atop Danish-designed chaise lounges as the desert sun baked their copper hides; the air perfumed with herbal ointments, oils and extractions, occasionally flavored with dissipating puffs of cigarette smoke – sex was in the air and everyone was hoping to be noticed by someone they were pretending not to notice – and all I could think was, “I wish it would rain.”
Inspired as I am by the titillating tenebrous of today, what follows is some of the music I save for a rainy day. These ditties are safely tucked in a specific playlist for whenever the Sun’s obscured and the scent of moisture’s all around.
Siouxsie & The Banshees – "Dazzle"
This song takes me back to the appropriately dark days of the 1980’s. I had just dropped out of high school my sophomore year and the world was a new and wonderful playground of drugs and whimsical fashion choices.
Whether it was holding (legally unrecognized) weddings in the graveyard at night or dropping acid on the banks of the South Yuba River, two things made these occasions sweeter: the rain, and the sound of Siouxsie crooning brooding. This song is taken from the album Hyæna (released 1984) which features Robert Smith from The Cure on guitar and keyboard. No matter what phase of my life I’m in, this album always makes me feel like a teenager again… and gives me an immediate hangover.
Kate Bush – "The Kick Inside"
This song, from the album of the same name, was the debut from English treasure Kate Bush. Because I had dropped out of high school, I would wake up bright and shining at around two o’clock in the afternoon.
My “morning” ritual was this: make a cup of Earl Grey, put on The Kick Inside, smoke clove cigarettes and drink tea until my best friend, Sadie McSweeney, arrived at the garage (I was living in a garage at the time). After she would berate me for waking up just as she was finishing her laborious school day, we would settle in and play a few games of Ace to King, an obscure card game I learned from my maternal grandmother who was once a Las Vegas blackjack dealer and housekeeper for one Frank Sinatra. (Did you get all that?)
But this album was also always played when it rained, which, in Nevada City in the wintertime, is often.
Fats Waller – "Ain’t Misbehavin’"
The fact that this song features in the film Stormy Weather is appropriate, but coincidental. It could be any Fats Waller number and it would sound sweet to me come a gloomy day. There’s something about the playful tickling of his keys that makes me feel all gezellig. Next time storm clouds keep you from jumping hopscotch outside, stay inside, put some Fats on, and drink scotch instead. I do.
Franz Schubert – Piano Quintet in A Major
This is the perfect soundtrack to daylight showers, particularly in spring. It makes everything feel fresh and I swear that this quintet actually deodorizes the air, despite its being known as the “trout” quintet.
In the provided clip, you’ll see one of the most famous recordings of the piece and one I highly recommend. There’s an informative documentary on it, too, which you can watch by clicking on the word altiloquent in this sentence.
Miles Davis – Ascenseur pour l'échafaud
Miles Davis created the soundtrack for this French film about a woman who is very sad because she’s injured herself and, as a result, must now walk very slowly. Things seem like they will improve when she meets and falls in love with a car (who could allow her to travel faster) but they find they have nothing to talk about, so they part. The film ends with the woman discovering her forehead has become greasy, so she contemplates buying some facial wash, which, in French New Wave Cinema, is the equivalent to Sandra Bullock finally finding romance. The end.
You don’t need to see the movie to enjoy the soundtrack, which is romantically depressed and sultry.
Scott Walker – "Plastic Palace People"
Oh, Scott. Lovely, lovely, Scott Walker. Scott on a rainy day. Nothing more needs be said here.
Anyway, whatever you listen to, stay dry, drive safe, pray for earthworms and don’t over-do the marshmallows on your cocoa. People die from them, you know. Like, all the time. They have too many marshmallows in their cocoa and they f**king die. The end.