The Story and Meaning Behind “Rain Is a Good Thing” by Luke Bryan

Referencing his life on a farm, Luke Bryan reached No. 1 for the first time in 2010 with “Rain Is a Good Thing,” turning agricultural hardship into a lighthearted country song. On his second album, Doin’ My Thing, Bryan traded traditional country for a pop-oriented sound, including a cover of OneRepublic’s “Apologize.”  

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Bryan’s parents owned a peanut farm in Georgia, and his perspective on the weather sharpened while watching his dad watch the sky, hoping for rain during dry seasons. Most people don’t grow up in agriculture, where the weather affects more than canceled barbecues or traffic delays.

As Bryan explained to The Boot, the mood of his household changed with the forecast. The crops flourished with rain, and nature determines the outlook when your livelihood depends on growing things.

Four, Four Drops of Rain, Ah, Ah, Ah

“Rain Is a Good Thing” is Bryan’s rebranding of nature’s loathed downpours, and he presents the song like it’s a teachable moment on Sesame Street.

Rain makes corn; corn makes whiskey
Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky
Back roads are boggin’ up, my buddies pile up in my truck
We hunt our honnies down; we take ’em into town
Start washin’ all our worries down the drain
Rain is a good thing

Bryan co-wrote the song with Dallas Davidson, who’s written hits for Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, and Lady A. The story opens with Bryan’s frustrated dad kicking the dust and cursing the sky because it’s too dry to grow crops. But the song becomes wistful about kisses behind the barn and noisy tin roofs.

Farmer Johnson does a little dance
Creeks on the rise; roll up your pants
Country girls, they wanna cuddle
Kids out playin’ in a big mud puddle

Pray for Rain

History is full of cultures organizing rituals to entice the sky to rain. Families gathered and discussed production and cultivation, hoping for Mother Nature’s sympathetic ear. Still today, people around the world pray for rain, pleading with the sky through desperate incantations for drought relief.

Before humans understood how the atmosphere worked, superstition was the only tool for dealing with harsh conditions. Some societies elevated rain gods with a specific dedication to the water. Praise be when it rains. Or curse the god when it doesn’t.  

You don’t need a rain god with the imperfect science of meteorology, and the local news provides plenty of reality drama as the meteorologist emerges throughout the broadcast, assuaging fears of rain, snow, or tornadoes.

An interesting phenomenon with meteorologists is that they nearly apologize when delivering lousy weather news. To escape the anger of TV viewers, they’ll coddle adults, reminding them to bring an umbrella or a coat to work—unneeded advice to soften the blow of gray skies.

Why Does It Always Rain on Me?

In privileged societies, rain is a nuisance, and it ruins plans. Anyone with a car understands humans are awful drivers. But add a rainstorm, and the highways jam with maniacs operating powerful vehicles with low visibility and high rage.

Rain is also associated with bad luck. In Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic,” a rained-out wedding day equals a death-row pardon two minutes too late. These aren’t examples of irony, but it does put rain in need of rebranding.

Amidst all the animosity toward rain, Bryan uses romantic nostalgia to change minds, Ain’t nothin’ like a kiss out back in the barn / Wringin’ out our soakin’ clothes, ridin’ out a thunderstorm.

Tennessee Floods

The Tennessee floods in 2010 arrived a few months after Bryan released “Rain Is a Good Thing.” The tragic event following his single defending rain isn’t ironic either, but the devastating effects exemplify Mother Nature’s ability to both nurture and destroy. It’s quite a paradox to refer to nature as motherly when it’s full of ways to kill you.

Releasing a country song celebrating rain while Nashville flooded—pelted by levels not seen since 1937—is the kind of unfortunate luck Morissette might have found a lyric for.

Make It Rain

As damaging as too much water at once can be, it’s vital to life. According to a 2019 Evolutionary Biology study at Harvard, water makes up 60-75% of human body weight. Losing 4% leads to dehydration, and a 15% loss can be fatal. Scientists search for water on other planets because the laws of biology on other worlds probably won’t differ from our own. Where you find water, you’ll probably find life.  

Bryan’s song is catchy, and the hoedown groove against The More You Know PSA rocketed his album to platinum status. With a hit song and a million albums sold, water wasn’t the only thing raining on Luke Bryan.

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Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

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