Song Of The Week: “I Can’t Stand The Rain” by Ann Peebles

ann peebles i-cant-stand-the-rainSometimes even an innocuous remark about the weather can start the hamster wheel turning in the mind of the songwriter.

In the late 60s and early 70s, Hi Records in Memphis ran a close second in popularity to their neighbor, Stax/Volt. Staff producer Willie Mitchell discovered and produced the sultry groove of the silky smooth Al Green, helping to mark Hi as a major player on the southern soul scene. In 1968, the year before he signed Green, Mitchell was at a Memphis nightclub when he heard a voice he had to meet. After the show he introduced himself to the young lady singer who, he found out, actually lived in St. Louis. He convinced her to move to Memphis and signed her to the label. The singer’s name was Ann Peebles.

ann peeblesFor the next few years, Peebles recorded and toured and found moderate success on the R & B chart, but she couldn’t seem to break through on a national level. That all changed in 1973.

One evening, while she and some friends — including her fellow songwriter and future husband, Don Bryant — prepared to leave for a concert, a torrential downpour came out of nowhere. Peebles looked outside and commented, “I can’t stand the rain.” The little songwriting hamster in Bryant’s mind immediately woke up and hopped on the wheel. Moving over to the piano, Bryant, Peebles, and local DJ Bernie Miller brainstormed on the idea, everyone suggesting lyrics and trying to nail down a melody.

The next day, they presented the finished song to Willie Mitchell, who later produced the track and created the signature percussive raindrop riff. Peebles and company never even made it to the concert on that rain-soaked night. The show had completely slipped their minds.

When “I Can’t Stand The Rain” was released later that year, it barely cracked the Top 40, but it was still the biggest hit Ann Peebles would ever record. And a soul classic at that.

So grab your galoshes. It’s gonna get wet.

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