The Rain in Spain
"The Rain in Spain" is a song from the musical My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. The song was published in 1956 very similar to piano trio in C minor 3rd movement by Josep Suk.
The song is a turning point in the plotline of the musical. Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering have been drilling Eliza Doolittle incessantly with speech exercises, trying to break her Cockney accent speech pattern. The key lyric in the song is "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain", which contains five words that a Cockney would pronounce with [æɪ] or [aɪ] – more like "eye" [aɪ] than the Received Pronunciation diphthong [eɪ]. With the three of them nearly exhausted, Eliza finally "gets it", and recites the sentence with all long-a's. The trio breaks into song, repeating this key phrase as well as singing other exercises correctly, such as "In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen", and "How kind of you to let me come", in which Eliza had failed before by dropping the leading 'H'.
The phrase does not appear in Shaw's original play, but is used in the 1938 film of the play. According to The Disciple and His Devil, the biography of Gabriel Pascal by his wife Valerie, it was Gabriel Pascal who introduced the famous phonetic exercises "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" and "In Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen" into the script of the film, the first of which was later used in the song in My Fair Lady.
Spanish rain does not actually stay mainly in the plain. It falls mainly in the northern mountains. In Spanish, the phrase was translated as La lluvia en Sevilla es una maravilla (The rain in Seville is a miracle). The lyric about Hertford, Hereford, and Hampshire implies (but does not entail) that hurricanes ever occur at all in these areas. This implication is false, as the only hurricane force (≥64 knot) winds that do occur in these areas (in the UK) result from extratropical cyclones, which differ from hurricanes in their causes and dynamics.
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The musical has been translated into many languages, with Eliza speaking Berlin, Vienna, Stockholm, Göteborg, Amsterdam, and Budapest dialects. Here is the equivalent of "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" in various languages:
- Afrikaans: "Die Spaanse maan het in sy baan gaan staan"
- Arabic: "سيدتي الجميلة: أنت القلب الكبير..أنت نعمة وإحسان..بنعمتك تختال علينا "
- Chinese: "西班牙的雨大多數落在平原上"
- Czech: "Déšť dští ve Španělsku zvlášť tam kde je pláň"
- Danish: "En snegl på vejen er tegn på regn i Spanien" (A snail on the road is a sign of rain in Spain.)
- Dutch (Version 1 and 3): "Het Spaanse graan heeft de orkaan doorstaan"
- Dutch (Version 2): "De franje in Spanje is meestal niet oranje"
- Estonian: "Hispaanias on hirmsad vihmahood"
- Finnish (Version 1): "Vie fiestaan hienon miekkamiehen tie"
- Finnish (Version 2): "En säiden tähden lähde Madridiin"
- French: "Le ciel serein d'Espagne est sans embrun"
- French (Quebec) : "La plaine madrilène plait à la reine"
- German: "Es grünt so grün, wenn Spaniens Blüten blühen"
- Hebrew: "ברד ירד בדרום ספרד הערב" ("Barad yarad bidrom sfarad haerev": Hail fell in southern Spain this evening.)
- Hungarian (Version 1): "Lenn délen édes éjen édent remélsz"
- Hungarian (Version 2): "Hispánián át nyári zápor szitál"
- Icelandic (Version 1): "Á Spáni hundur lá við lund á grund"
- Icelandic (Version 2): "Á Spáni er til að bili þil í byl"
- Italian (original performance on stage): "In Spagna s'è bagnata la campagna"
- Italian (film version): "La rana in Spagna gracida in campagna"
- Italian (later performances on stage): "La pioggia in Spagna bagna la campagna"
- Japanese: "スペインの雨は主に平野に降る。"
- Korean: "스페인 평원에 비가 내려요"
- Marathi: "Ti Phularaani"
- Norwegian (Version 1): "Det gol og mol i solen en spanjol"
- Norwegian (Version 2): "De spanske land har alltid manglet vann"
- Persian: "باران در سپاین می بارد فراوان"
- Polish: "W Hiszpanii mży, gdy dżdżyste przyjdą dni"
- Portuguese (Version 1): "O rei de Roma ruma a Madrid"
- Portuguese (Version 2): "Atrás do trem as tropas vem trotando"
- Russian (Version 1): "Того и жди, пойдут в Испании дожди" ("Tovo i zhdi, poydut v Ispanii dozhdi")
- Russian (Version 2:) "В Севилье град крупнее, говорят" ("F Sevilye grat krupneye, govaryat")
- Russian (Version 3:) "Карл у Клары украл кораллы" ("Karl u Klary ukral korally")
- Spanish (Mexico 1959) "El rey que hay en Madrid se fue a Aranjuez"
- Spanish (Film version): "La lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla"
- Spanish (Spain 1982): "El juez jugó en Jerez al ajedrez"
- Spanish (Spain 2001): "La lluvia en España bellos valles baña"
- Spanish (Mexico 2002) "Un ardid urdió el bardo en Madrid"
- Swedish: "Den spanska räven rev en annan räv"
- Swedish (version 2): "Nederbörden och skörden" ("All nederbörd förstörde körsbärsskörden")
- Turkish: "İspanya’da yağmur, her yer çamur"
- Ukrainian: "Дощі в Афінах частіше йдуть в долинах" ("Doshchi v Afinah chastishe jdut' v dolynah")
Usage in popular culture
- In the Family Guy episode "One If by Clam, Two If by Sea", Stewie tries to teach a girl to lose her Cockney accent. Together, he and Eliza sing a parody, "The Life of The Wife is Ended by the Knife."
- The satirical revue Forbidden Broadway set up playwright David Mamet as being exasperated with Madonna's acting style with the lyrics, "I strain in vain to train Madonna's brain." The song is included on the album Forbidden Broadway, Vol. 2.
- In The Flintstones episode A Star is Almost Born there is a takeoff on the tune entitled The Ants in France stay Mainly on the Plants - performed for pretty much the same reason.
- The Simpsons episode "My Fair Laddy" is itself a parody of My Fair Lady, and includes the song "Not On My Clothes" (with the lyrics, "What flows from the nose does not go on my clothes").
- In Stephen King's book The Gunslinger he writes a parody titled The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain. King's novel Salem's Lot also features his changed lyrics recited by Mark Petrie.
- In 2012, a punk rock version of "The Rain in Spain" was featured in comedy-musical TV series Glee, episode "Choke". The song was performed by Mark Salling (as his character Puck) and the guys of the series' fictional glee club New Directions.
- In the 1956–59 revue At the Drop of a Hat, Michael Flanders observes in a brief comic monologue that: "Despite all you may have heard to the contrary, the rain in Spain stays almost invariably in the hills."
- Wells, John C. (1982b). "Accents of English 2: The British Isles". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 307–308. ISBN 0-521-24224-X.
- Pascal, Valerie, "The Disciple and His Devil," McGraw-hill, 1970. p. 83.
- Almagor, Dan, ""Barad yarad bidrom sfarad: How "The Rain in Spain" Fell in Eretz-Israel," Israel Review of Arts and Letters, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA.org), November 19, 1998.
- Musicalmuzeum.hu - Lyrics of "Lenn délen édes éjen édent remélsz!"]
- The Internet Movie Transcriptions Database, "Family Guy S3 E1-11."
- Planet Family Guy, "Subtitle Scripts."
- Kilian, Michael, "Offing Broadway Satirical Revue Grows Into A Star-Bashing Biggie," Chicago Tribune, 6 November 1988, p. 28. (Full Text)
- Kuchwara, Michael, "Alessandrini zeroes in on next Broadway target ," Knight-Ridder, 5 March 2000.
- Clausen, Alf and Michael Price, "Not On My Clothes," T C F Music Publishing, Inc., 2006.
- Stephen King (2011). Salem's Lot. Random House. p. 653.