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Singin’ In The Rain

Song: Singin’ In The Rain

Songwriters: Nacio Herb Brown (music) and Arthur Freed (lyrics)

Singer: Gene Kelly (and others)

Next time you’re caught in a downpour without a raincoat or an umbrella, try singing Singin’ In The Rain as loud as you dare, and you’ll see why I think this is a great song. I remember marching arm-in-arm with friends on a stormy summer’s night in Italy when our car broke down miles from anywhere. Singin’In The Rain turned a bad situation into a bundle of laughs. And in my former life as a street musician, I soon learned that there was really only one song that was worth singing in the rain – you guessed it.

Apart from the wonderfully simple, life-affirming concept of enjoying the rain, the lyrics of the song are actually fairly unremarkable: they just take the idea of “singin’ in the rain” and run with it.

The melody is very repetitive and almost pentatonic, which lends the song something of a naïve, childlike quality. The tune essentially consists of minor variations of the opening two phrases, the first descending (“I’m singin’ in the rain”), the second ascending (“Just singin’ in the rain”); the endings of the two verses, while related to one another, are not closely related to the two singin’in the rain motifs. The song has a range of only an octave, and even at Gene Kelly’s dreamily relaxed tempo the song lasts barely a minute (excluding dance interludes and reprises).

Harmonically, the song is also very simple, with only very infrequent chord changes. What ties the acompaniment together is really the characteristic repeated figure (what would be called a riff by rock and jazz musicians), and which Gene Kelly sings along with at the start of his famous song and dance sequence.

So, like so many of the good things in life, Singin’ In The Rain is all very simple really. Like laughing at clouds.


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