Red Rain

Album: So (1986)
Charted: 46


  • This was inspired by a recurring dream where Gabriel was swimming in a sea of red water. Gabriel explained to Mojo magazine September 2013: "'Red Rain' was written after a dream I'd had about the sea being parted by two walls. There were these glass-like figures that would screw themselves into each wall, fill up with red blood and then be lowered across the sand, as it were to the next wall, where they'd unload the blood on the other side. I used to have these extremely vivid dreams that scared the hell out of me."
  • Gabriel: "If feelings of pain do not get brought out, not only do they fester and grow stronger but they manifest themselves in the external world."
  • Hi-hat cymbals played by Stewart Copeland were combined with a Linn drum machine programmed by Chris Hughes to form a backing rhythm that simulates rain. Other personnel on the track are:

    Daniel Lanois - guitar
    David Rhodes - guitar, backing vocals
    Tony Levin - bass
    Jerry Marotta - drums

    Gabriel added piano and two different synthesizers: a Fairlight CMI and Prophet 5.
  • At one point, Gabriel wanted this song to tell the story of Mozo, a mercurial stranger who would come and go, changing people's lives. Other songs that told the Mozo story are "On The Air," "Down The Dolce Vita," "Exposure", "Here Comes The Flood," and "That Voice Again." Gabriel envisioned a movie or play based on the Mozo character, but it never happened.
  • This was used in the TV series Miami Vice ("Stone's War" - 1986) and CSI: NY ("Dead Inside" - 2008).
  • Daniel Lanois also co-produced the album with Gabriel. The pair had worked together on the soundtrack to the 1984 film Birdy, starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine. After So wrapped, Lanois moved on to co-produce U2's hit album The Joshua Tree.

Comments: 18

  • Lona from Totnes, United KingdomWaiting for that Reverbnation account, William.
  • Lona from Totnes, United KingdomI also believe this story. I own Stream Dreams's album Red Red Rain. It was given to me by Aaron Killingdale, in fact, in 1987. He was my music teacher by then. Red Red Rain deserves to be known!
  • Sean from Philadelphia, MdTo William. I believe your story. I even remember hearing of it a long time ago. It's an amazing song and dream and story.
  • William from Baton Rouge, LaI realize that no one will believe me when I attempt to document this fact.
    I sent Peter Gabriel my album entitled Red Red Rain in the spring of 1983.
    The group was called Stream Dreams and the title cut had the exact same
    melody and chord progression AND words as his Red Rain. The ironic thing
    is that Gabriel was my musical hero so I never pursued any avenues of trying
    to get any monetary compensation, reasoning he must have listened to the song
    and got it in his head and dreamed the dream he probably actually had, the tune
    and the lyrical idea somehow subconsciously guiding his dream. My red rain came
    from crying so hard you'd cry blood, so that part is different but again the chord
    progression (same key even) the melody at the chorus AND the lyrics are identical.
    Just thought I'd clear that up for everyone. :)
    Upon the 20 year anniversary of the album release I will be making a Reverbnation
    account that is dedicated to the Stream Dreams album.
    It was recorded in Athens, Georgia in the spring of 1983.
  • Mage from Pittsburgh , PaAfter speaking with friends from Italy it is not an uncommon experience to have actual 'Red Rain'. The winds from Africa blow the colored sand particles north, and upon rain it brings those particles down with the rain and it is colored red! Perhaps that may be the most simplistic explanation.
  • Vince from La, CaAlex. The lyrics you speak of are "putting the pressure on much harder now"

    The song is about Peter swimming in an ocean of blue and Red bottles. As he would fight to stay afloat, the blue bottles would try and hold him down. The Red were a symbol of love. As the blue held him down the red would overcome and push him towards the surface. Those are his words in a brief explanation. The dream as explained by Peter is very vivid. It's a song about the hope and need for love to get you through any times of trial and despair.
  • Alex from Atlanta, GaI believe that Peter Gabriel was relating Red Rain to war or the Holocaust. The line "they're burning the flesh along much harder now, to return again and again." may refer to the Germans burning the Jews in the ovens and to keep doing it again and again.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InFantastic imagery and the percussion definitely stands out.
    My favorite Gabriel song.
  • Jp from Bangor, MeThe song followed on the height of nuclear paranoia that infected the early 80s. It's likely about the fact that a nuclear weapon vaporizes people. Interestingly enough the politics of the 80s, though despised at the times, actually lead to the end of the Cold War and a tremendous racheting down of the threat of a nuclear war. Stewart Copeland did, indeed, play the hi hat cymbals on the song. His style is unique.
  • Hunta from St. Louis, Moi actually read on wikipedia that peter wanted to make a movie based on this song about an african village that is plagued by a mysterious "red rain" aka acid rain ("that burns the ground" as according to the song) from nearby industrial factories. I really don't think it's about baptism, but rather something like i just mentioned.
  • Nick from Alcester, EnglandUh... Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan :)

    But it does make me think of the redemptive qualities of his sacrifice.
  • Larry from Dallas, TxThe song reminds me of the sight of someone who steps on a land mine.
  • Nate from Worcester, MaUm...could it possibly be from the point of view of an egyptian soldier who had the misfortune of following the pharoah after Moses and the Jews before the Exodus? As in, "The Red Sea starts to rain down upon the soldiers"?
  • Chris from St. Louis, MoThe liner notes for the recently re-released and completely remastered version of "So" on CD indicates the song Red Rain references Acid Rain and Peter Gabriel's environmentalist interests. I had not heard that before. Fans of Gabriel should consider the SO remastered CD and his new Greatest Hits, HIT or new DVD Still Growing Up 2005. Eager to see if Peter and Phil Collins reunite Genesis in 2006 as is widely rumored.
  • Brian from Meriden, CtI think Red Rain is an excellent example of the extremely creative Gabriel's mastery of imagery. Whatever the ultimate meaning, through his image-rich lyricism and sweet, equally rich, emotive vocal style and musical accompaniment the listener is transformed emotionally. A work of art.
  • Dan from Ashburn, VaRed water...any red fluid must be a reference to blood; add that to the lyrics "as you scream," "seen them buried, "I can't watch any more." But then "it's so hard to lay down in all of this" and "no sign of pain." Fear of death, and then the peaceful acceptance of one's death, accepting Death as an innocent, trusting child. In the beginning he's standing at the water's edge, but by the end he is immersed in the red sea. Are you ready to accept death as natural as a red rain pouring all over you?
  • Sonja from Chicago, IlI think this song also speaks to the Babtism of Jesus in the Red Sea and the purfying effects of rain and water.
  • Jesse from Mesa, AzStewart Copeland of The Police is credited as playing the hi-hat cymbals on this song.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.

Guy ClarkSongwriter Interviews

Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett are just a few of the artists who have looked to Clark for insightful, intelligent songs.

Steve Morse of Deep PurpleSongwriter Interviews

Deep Purple's guitarist since 1994, Steve talks about writing songs with the band and how he puts his own spin on "Smoke On The Water."

Phone Booth SongsSong Writing

Phone booths are nearly extinct, but they provided storylines for some of the most profound songs of the pre-cell phone era.

The Real Nick DrakeSong Writing

The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.