About the song
If you are a fan of soft rock music, you might have heard of the song “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Albert Hammond. This song was released in 1972 as the lead single from Hammond’s debut album of the same name. It was a huge hit, reaching the top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming Hammond’s signature song. But do you know the story behind this song? How did Hammond, a British-born singer-songwriter, come up with the lyrics and the music? What inspired him to write about the sunny and dry weather of Southern California? In this blog post, we will explore the history of this song and how it reflects Hammond’s personal journey and struggles in the music industry.
The song “It Never Rains in Southern California” was co-written by Hammond and his longtime collaborator Mike Hazlewood, who also helped him write other hits like “The Air That I Breathe” and “Free Electric Band”. The song was written in London, before they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their careers. Hammond said that he was telling Hazlewood about his experiences in Spain when he started as a musician and how he had to beg for money outside of train stations because he had no money to eat and he didn’t want to tell his parents. He also recalled an incident when his cousin saw him asking for money and threatened to tell his father, who would have stopped him from following his dreams. These stories inspired the lyrics of the song, which tell a first-person narrative of a showbiz hopeful who failed to make it in Hollywood and who wants to hide his failures from his loved ones back home. The chorus goes:
It never rains in Southern California
It pours, man, it pours
I’m out of work, I’m out of my head
Out of self-respect, I’m out of bread
I’m underloved, I’m underfed
I wanna go home
The song captures the irony and the contrast between the sunny and optimistic image of Southern California and the harsh and disappointing reality of the entertainment industry. Hammond said that he wanted to write a song that was “a little bit different” from the typical songs about California that were popular at the time, such as “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas & The Papas or “Hotel California” by The Eagles. He said that he wanted to show “the other side of the coin” and “the truth” about what it was like to try to make it in Hollywood.
The song was recorded in 1972 with the help of L.A. session musicians from the Wrecking Crew, a group of studio musicians who played on many hit records in the 1960s and 1970s. The song features a female chorus, a flute ensemble, piano, guitar, strings, and bass. The song was produced by Hammond himself along with Don Altfeld. The song was released by Mums Records, a subsidiary of CBS Records, and became an instant success. It peaked at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, number two on the US Billboard Easy Listening chart, and number one on the Japanese Oricon International chart. It also charted in several other countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Germany, and Switzerland. It was Hammond’s only top 10 hit in the US as a solo artist (although he had another top 40 hit in 1974 with “I’m a Train”). The song also appeared on Hammond’s debut album It Never Rains in Southern California, which reached number 77 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
The song has been covered by many artists over the years, such as Sonny & Cher, Julio Iglesias, Leo Sayer, Smokie, Agnetha Fältskog (of ABBA), Saori Minami (a Japanese singer who recorded a version with Japanese lyrics), Trent Summar and the New Row Mob (a country band who reached number 74 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with their version), and others. The song has also been sampled or referenced by artists such as Tupac Shakur (“To Live & Die in L.A.”), Kid Rock (“All Summer Long”), Murs (“L.A.”), Frank Ocean (“Sweet Life”), and others. The song has also been used in movies, TV shows, commercials, and video games.
“It Never Rains in Southern California” is a classic song that has stood the test of time. It is not only a catchy and memorable tune but also a poignant and honest reflection of Hammond’s life story and struggles. It is a song that resonates with anyone who has ever chased their dreams and faced challenges along the way. It is a song that reminds us that sometimes things are not what they seem and that we should always be true to ourselves and to our loved ones.