TINA TURNER / “I Can’t Stand The Rain”

ann peebles 12.jpg “I Can’t Stand The Rain” is Ann Peebles’ signature song. She not only recorded the best of the many versions of it, she co-wrote it too (along with her husband, songwriter Don Bryant). Ann puts so much feeling into her vocals and the arrangement is so dead-on perfect that “I Can’t Stand The Rain” sounds like an epic even though it’s less than three minutes long. Strange then that it wasn’t a bigger hit. Back in 1974, it went Top 10 on the R&B charts (which is OK, I suppose) but barely made it onto the Pop Top 40 at all. (It peaked at #38.) To add insult to injury, that was Ann’s best showing ever…and on either chart. Over the years though, “I Can’t Stand The Rain” has gained more and more status as numerous singers cut covers of it, rappers sampled it and late night DJs kept on playing it. tina turner 01.jpg The best-known (and best) cover of “I Can’t Stand The Rain” has to be Tina Turner’s from Tina’s Private Dancer LP, the first album Tina released after finally ridding herself of Ike. If anybody could do justice to Ann’s bluesy wail, Tina could. In fact, until fairly recently, I associated the song with Tina Turner, not Ann Peebles. But according to Tina’s discography, “I Can’t Stand The Rain” was never released as a single in the U.S. Presumably then, radio stations were playing the song as an album cut. I was thirteen when Private Dancer came out, and the way I remember it, I heard Tina’s version of “I Can’t Stand The Rain” all the time. A band named Eruption is responsible for the highest-charting cover of “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” Their disco version of the record went Top 20 on the U.S. Pop chart and Top Five on the U.K. chart. Big hit or not, I’m not including Eruption’s version in the jukebox because it’s terrible. I will however include two rap records that successfully sampled the original. missy elliott 01.jpg Missy Elliot’s “The Rain” is a Top Five R&B hit from 1997 and was the first single from Missy’s first solo album, Supa Dupa Fly. Typical of Missy and Timbaland, “The Rain” is built around a stuttering, stopping-and-starting groove that should be undanceable but somehow manages to be exactly the opposite. talib kweli 05.jpg “Memories Live” is a Talib Kweli track from his Train Of Thought album. Talib loops Ann’s voice (‘bringing back sweet memories’) to anchor his melancholic look backwards. I’ve got one more take on “I Can’t Stand The Rain” to add to the list and it’s by Ann Peebles herself. Listen to the beginning of “Come To Mama,” a track from Ann’s 1976 album Tellin’ It, and it’s immediately apparent that you’re listening to a sped-up version of that great percussion lick from “Can’t Stand The Rain.” Keep in mind that “Come To Mama” and “I Can’t Stand The Rain” are only two of the many great records that Ann recorded (and sometimes wrote) during the Seventies. The woman was no one-hit wonder. But for reasons I’ve been unable to figure out, other artists always seemed to hit bigger with Ann’s songs than she herself did. Next week, we’ll check out great Ann Peebles records like “I Pity The Fool,” “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down,” and “I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” all of which Ann recorded first and all of which ended up being big hits. Only not for Ann herself. (Note: All of the Ann Peebles songs discussed in this write-up are available on The Best Of Ann Peebles: The Hi Records Years.) —Mtume ya Salaam           What Makes A Hit?          Shit. Literally. Right now a hit can be made out of shit if it’s heavily marketed and properly produced (of course, I know at this point some one is asking themselves—or maybe even talking to the computer screen—how does one "properly produce" shit?). Well, glad you asked. Into today’s business world the combination of expert production and heavy marketing can mask a deficit of substance. Expert production is usually shiny, full of eye/ear candy, exciting to peep, expertly executed. Not a hair out of place, a sharp crease everywhere there’s suppose to be an edge, and the sexiest bodies money can buy. Marketing is a two step process: 1. Make them aware. 2. Make them want it. I’ve listened to a bunch of versions of “I Can’t Stand The Rain.” Mtume raises an important question about the song. I can explain how capitalism can sell shiny shit and make us think we’re buying nuggets of sunshine, but I can’t explain how a song as well known, well loved, and well respected as “I Can’t Stand The Rain” was never a number one hit for Ann Peebles. ann peebles 13.jpg From what I know about her career, if anybody deserves a big break, Ann Peebles does. Who knows why good things sometimes don't happen to good people? Perhaps the song title explains the situation. Shit happens (or, as it were, doesn't happen). Things don’t work out. Some rough circumstances come along and remind you of how things didn’t work out. Rain falls on our parades. The next thing you know, we can’t stand the rain. I guess the big question is really: how come so many of us the ones who always get flooded out when it rains? Mtume, you’re absolutely right. Of all these versions, Ann’s original version is the best. Oh well, at least sister lady is collecting royalty checks. (Oh, by the way the song was written by Ann Peebles, her then soon-to-be-husband Don Bryant and a third party, disc jockey Bernard Miller.) Moreover, not only is the original better than the covers, but if you go back to the contemporary section and check out Ann’s update, I also like what she did on the update better than any of the covers. Seems to me it’s obvious: “I Can’t Stand The Rain” is a song that belongs to Ann Peebles. Other people can make money off it, but Ann is the one who really sings it. —Kalamu ya Salaam  

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2007 at 12:58 am and is filed under Cover. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “TINA TURNER / “I Can’t Stand The Rain””

Stephanie Renee Says:
April 9th, 2007 at 11:04 am

Looking forward to listening my way through all of the versions. Oddly enough, the first one I ever heard was Cassandra Wilson’s version on "Blue Light Til Dawn." Knowing how much you guys love her, I thought I’d see her name in the lineup as well. 🙂

     Mtume says:     


That’s all I can really say. I just missed that one. Cassandra does such unique covers of songs that I sometimes forget that it’s even the same song. (How’s that for an excuse?) We’ll put Cassandra’s version in next week’s jukebox.

Ukali Says:
April 14th, 2007 at 9:03 pm

There are things that people should not tamper with.
Stuff we need to leave alone.
Treasures near-perfect just as they are.
“I Can’t Stand The Rain” is one of them.

Haven’t heard each cover, but the ones I did… well, they just don’t capture the echoing loneliness Ann Peebles first conjured up. They don’t evoke blue feelings brought on by the same patter of rain that used to stir joy within.

Ann takes us to that small back-alley apartment where lovers once sheltered each other’s hearts during winter showers. And we grieve with her over good love that is no longer ours. We feel pain even as we recall sweet intimacy and warmth.

Those other versions sound like songs; the original is shared emotion.
Sometimes authentic experience is diminished by imitation.

There are things that people should not tamper with.
Stuff we need to leave alone.
Treasures near-perfect just as they are.

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