As soon as the Christmas clearance bins have been emptied, we’re engulfed by the next season of festivities. Bloody St Valentine. Love is in the air, everywhere you look, and actually, everywhere you listen. Lyrically, the majority of
popular music is about matters of the heart. A song comes on the radio while the rain lashes on the window and either you’ve just been dumped or you’ve just found the “one” – and you know what? Every lyric means the world to you. “It’s like it’s been written for my situation.”
We’ve all been there. Why are there so many songs about love? Is it because we don’t go around citing poetry any more? Or is it the one thing that we all actually have in common. Either way, it can be a smart route to success. Tapping into universal matters of the heart can mean widespread sales and a bigger audience for your music. You might even get really lucky and find your song soundtracking the big scene in a movie.
I was sat in the car on the M25 the other day thinking about which songs aren’t, ostensibly, about love. Tequila by Terrorvision sprang to mind, but let’s not talk about that. But I did notice that weather came up a lot.
Another thing we all have in common. Travis were on to an absolute winner with Why Does It Always Rain On Me?. Every rainy Glastonbury and every rainy Wimbledon it becomes an undercover national anthem. And let’s not forget the likes of Riders On The Storm, Ain’t No Sunshine, Mr Blue Sky, Purple Rain… they’re huge records, and have all been in the library at the past 13 radio stations I’ve worked at.
Once I started researching this, I realised that there are people other than me spending a lot of time on this very subject. In July, a group of leading academics revealed that 163 of Bob Dylan’s 542 songs – 30 per cent of them – mention weather. The Beatles also mentioned the elements in 16 per cent of their songs. Well, well, well. Who knew?
Thinking about it in the car, the reason quickly became fairly clear: these references are often metaphors for matters of the heart. Love and weather seemingly go hand in hand: they always say summer time is the time you make up or break up – things feel fresher, more exciting with a ray of sunshine and a major key. On the other hand, some deep cello
on a grey day will only emphasise your heartache and longing. Whatever the reason, it’s a great bridge into a song – we are all one after all. Except for David Bowie: he took us into another orbit too. RIP beautiful Star Man.