Only Happy When It Rains :: Garbage
from the album, Garbage
directed by Samuel Bayer

Only Happy When It Rains is a song written and produced by Garbage for the their self-titled debut studio album. The song was recorded at the band’s own recording studio, Smart Studios, in Madison, Wisconsin, being mixed twice before its release. The bleak content of the lyrics was intended as a parody of the angst filled themes present in mid-1990s alternative rock, as well as a sarcastic reference to Garbage’s own preference for darker themes.

Only Happy When it Rains was released as the third single from the campaign for Garbage in both the United Kingdom (in September 1995) and North America (in February 1996), being issued in three formats vinyl, CD maxi, and cassette. The song received positive reviews, praising the production and Shirley Manson’s singing, and became the band’s breakthrough single, charting strongly on both the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100.

The song also crossover to pop radio formats, propelling their debut album into the Top 100 of the Billboard 200 for the first time, and the song’s music video, directed by Samuel Bayer, received much airplay on MTV.

The video (see above) was filmed in mid-January 1996 in Los Angeles, simultaneously with the video for single Stupid Girl. As Almo Sounds thought Only Happy When It Rains would be more successful, its video was given a higher budget than Stupid Girl.

In a 1995 interview with Addicted to Noise, Steve Marker, the band’s guitarist, said, “It’s really just us poking fun of ourselves… We’re poking fun at the alternatrock angst, wearing your heart on your sleeve thing and at ourselves for writing such dark songs.” This is a similar sentiment to the sarcasm behind The Smith’s 1984 single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.”

Garbage drummer Butch Vig has described the song as “an homage to The Jesus And Mary Chain.”

The video debuted in the United States on February 12, 1996, being certified one day later by MTV as a “Buzz clip“, which would guarantee heavy rotation on their network.

The video begins a short prologue sequence with several children dressed in animal costumes playing in an overcast field, before cutting to Garbage upon the commencement of the song. Garbage are located in a litter-strewn warehouse, where the male members of the band destroy vinyl records, videotape and musical instruments as Manson performs to the camera. Some sequences feature Manson performing the song while on her own in dilapidated toilet stalls. The video ends with inter-cut footage of Manson joining the children on the field.

The Only Happy When It Rains video was first commercially released – along with out-take footage shot while filming – on VHS and Video-CD on 1996’s Garbage Video. A remastered version of the video was later included on Garbage’s 2007 greatest hits DVD Absolute Garbage and made available as a digital download via online music services the same year.

Editor’s Note: Hailing from “Sunny Southern California” where they say it never rains, I tend to be one of the few that rejoice when it does rain (and yes, it does rain in Southern California). The rain clears my head, centers my thoughts and sparks creativity in a similar way as very early mornings do. For me, I am more productive and creative when it rains, so thus, more happy, too.


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