The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

Raining in the new season


Every year I suffer through the heat of the summer. Without air conditioning in my room or really much ventilation at all, I’m forced to spend each day boiling. My drives to work—only 10 to 15 minutes—end with a shirt soaked in sweat and a little less dignity on my shift. My time hanging outside with friends turns into an exhausting scramble for something cold to drink or somewhere cool to go. So every year, when that first drop of rain can be heard from my window and I can see its shape in the glowing street lights, I thank the universe for the respite that is fall rain.

Rain makes everything better. The sound in particular is especially calming and meditative, a constant pattering that makes you appreciate the pockets of order hidden indoors among the chaos. So if rain sounds so great, why not throw in a little music for an especially potent concoction? This playlist is filled with songs that are perfect for listening to in the rain.


What Do You Want – German Error Message

This track off of German Error Message’s 2014 album Haunts is a perfect song to capture the disconnect from reality that rain often forms. It opens with acoustic guitar and revving chords that shimmer over a kick drum pounding away like a heart. “What Do You Want” is abstract, describing a feeling of weakness and vulnerability towards something and accepting that fact—hence the question asked incessantly over warm chords just slightly peaking into an intoxicating sharp edge, “What do you want?”

The main body of the song is queued in by a puddle-splash into a piano section and more upbeat  drums while the vocals sing, “What weather changes more than the greens / Of something moving, untamed / In the airy mist that my breath makes / When I don’t know what to say.”

The outro contains a culmination of this tension: distorted instruments mimic the vocal melody, powerful and stripped back while still taking on an orchestral property. This song perfectly encapsulates the pleasant numbing of fall’s shift into saturation, when bad things suddenly feel just a little better as the world declares them unimportant and insignificant, as if to say, “Whatever. I’m too busy dumping gallons of water onto the ground.” I think this sense of numb relaxation is well-timed for many students as school workloads begin to ramp up in the fall, creating a time of high stress. This is definitely a song to bask in the rain with.


Interzone – Joy Division

While “What Do You Want” represents the more serene side of Portland rain, Joy Division’s “Interzone,” off their legendary album Unknown Pleasures, demonstrates the ability a heavy downpour has to create a sense of urgency and desperation.

Sirens wail as a growling riff lashes out, developing a frantic and fearful atmosphere. Lead singer Ian Curtis chants over himself in his distinct amateur and passion-driven voice. His vocals are out of breath and losing composure as he describes a search for a friend in a lonely, isolating and scary city, singing, “I walked through the city limits / Attracted by some force within it / Around a corner where a prophet lay / A wire fence where the children played / And I was looking for a friend of mine / Yeah, looking for some friends of mine.”

A brief breakdown ensues, guitars muted and chugging before Curtis yelps desperately about his need to escape. This sense of urgency and being on edge is something that I’ve felt many times when I catch myself running late to something and the rain only seems to amplify the stress of the situation. “Interzone” exposes the dark side of the rain.


Harvest Moon – Neil Young

I have countless memories of nights spent under a blanket lying next to the window and listening to the crashing rain outside as it rapped against the roof and ground beneath me. Rain may also take on a sedative, sleepy quality which is summed up well by Neil Young’s classic love song, “Harvest Moon.”

The song opens with a slow, soft guitar riff accompanied by a spacey melody. A sweeping percussion like a late night rain shower revolves as Young sings, “Come a little bit closer / Hear what I have to say / Just like children sleepin’ / We could dream this night away.” A choir comes in, sweetly singing in vibrato as a sense of tranquility grows and the song dances on. A harmonica solo adds to the folksy feeling that outlines the track.

Young’s voice is like a lullaby ringing out softly on a stormy night when all you want to do is fall asleep. As the song winds down, you can almost feel the sun sink deeper beneath the horizon as the night seeps into every last nook and cranny of space, “But now it’s gettin’ late / And the moon is climbin’ high / I want to celebrate / See it shinin’ in your eye.” 

“Harvest Moon” is the perfect song during a good bedtime rain. It expertly balances the dichotomy between cold tiredness and warm, energetic romance.


Misty – Sarah Vaughn

This rendition of the classic jazz standard is done excellently by vocalist Sarah Vaughn and has a more abstract connection to rain. The tune takes on a whimsical, almost fairytale-like feel as soft piano keys weave around Vaughn’s sentimental voice while a symphony interjects, bows bellowing, harps plucking. A saxophone belts a line here and there, expertly complementing Vaughn’s voice and adding depth to the track.

As Vaughn sings about her woes of love and her being “too misty,” I recall the early Portland mornings: surreal clouds of mist settling over the streets and tangling in trees, a truly magical and otherworldly feeling just like the one which this song evokes. “Misty” ends in a tremendous exhale of its overwhelming rainy day beauty, an ode to the fine and elegant mist.


Stranger in Moscow – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s song off of his 1995 double album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I is a song connected to rain more in lyrics than sound. The track begins with a vocal percussion, a chopped-up beatbox that overwhelms soft chords. Jackson sings, “I was wandering in the rain / Mask of life, feelin’ insane / Swift and sudden fall from grace / Sunny days seem far away.”

The lyrics follow a unique theme of Soviet oppression alongside a cold and stormy mood. Jackson’s voice dances over the instruments as tracks layer before he repeats, “How does it feel?” His tone is burning and longing as instruments falter and he forces out the first clause of his question, “When you’re alone and you’re cold inside?”

To finish the song off, an outro sees a shift in Jackson’s tonality, now strained and rough, gravelly as he shouts. His voice feels serrated and cuts at the listener, and as his voice dies one last time, a quiet lead finishes the song off. Whispering and screaming can be heard in the distance as if trapped behind a dense wall of storm.


Sanctuary – Miles Davis

When I was younger, I loved the moodiness of film noir. The idea of a private eye in a rainy Northeastern city where the sun never seems to shine, investigating mysterious crimes captivated me. Every film noir needs its soundtrack, and I believe Miles Davis’ “Sanctuary” from his experimental jazz album Bitches Brew is the perfect song.

This 10-minute behemoth begins with a trumpet exhale, a drawn-out sigh of relief and peacefulness. Keys fiddle around, asking questions left unanswered by the oppressive monologue of Davis’ trumpet. Drums come in rolling, soft and minimal, forming a loose groove as bass joins in a pure overwhelming wall of jazz before subsiding. This is the scene where a detective dons his trench coat and begins trudging through the stormy New York City streets to his next case.

Finally, the drums find a place in the mix as the keys saunter while Davis articulates a stumbling melody. Soon after, dissonant keys and the incessant crash of drums build up into a hurricane of sound, drenching the listener in jazz at its noisiest while Davis persists on the trumpet with otherworldly skill. Again, the sound dies suddenly.

As the song approaches its halfway point, a calmer section ensues, lonely and deflated horns wailing while keys reverberate from underwater. In this scene, the investigator is perplexed by the scene of the crime, scratching his head as he analyzes.

Then yet again the trumpet switches into a spouting of joy as drums and keys now dance, elated, arpeggios both regal and blissful. The song transitions into an upbeat groove, returning back to where it began. The rain is still dumping onto the streets as the private eye begins his long walk back to the office, head down, hands stuffed deep into his pockets. One final swelling sees manic keys pushed into growling and whining, speaking in tongues while drums endlessly bang and Davis drones.

“Sanctuary” is a soundtrack to a dark and stormy world full of crime and endless cityscapes. It evokes the sight of black-and-white film flickering, raindrops blending in with the natural film grain and degradation. It feels dark, mysterious and brooding.


I feel that these songs were a strong overall representation of the many roles rain fills in the fall season: cooling nerves or amplifying urgency; rocking to sleep or inducing a fairy tale euphoria; painting a scene of hopelessness or creating mystery. I hope that anyone reading this finds a song or two on this list that helps rain serve whatever purpose they need it to this season.

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About the Contributor
Lincoln Wheeler, Editor-In-Chief
Lincoln Wheeler (he/him) is a senior who loves playing hockey and guitar. He enjoys being a journalist because he wants to bring new perspectives and ideas to people.

Comments (2)

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  • L

    Lilly Santangelo-St. MartinOct 26, 2023 at 9:34 pm

    Maybe try to drink water and cook down?

  • E

    Eva AndrewsOct 26, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    I love this!! I wouldn’t want anyone else carrying on the playlist column.