"Red Rain" is the first track on Peter Gabriel's 1986 solo album So. In the USA, it was the second single from the album and reached #3 on Billboardmagazine's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the fall of 1986, receiving strong radio airplay and MTV rotation; in the rest of the world it was released until 1987 and received minor airplay and poor sales. Stewart Copeland from The Police played the hi-hat for the rain-like background sound; the rest of the drumming was handled by Jerry Marotta. A live version also charted in the US and the UK in 1994.
The song is a combination of several inspirations. The lyrics directly reference a recurring dream Gabriel was having where he swam in his pool drinking cold red wine. Another version of the dream had bottles falling from a cliff, and the bottles were in the shape of people. When they were smashed on the ground, the people-shaped bottles had red liquid coming out, and then it began to rain the same red liquid.
Earlier in his solo career, Gabriel had an idea for a movie, Mozo. In it, villagers were punished for their sins with a blood red rain. "Red Rain" was to be the theme song. This idea was eventually scrapped, although there was a mention of Mozo in the song "On the Air" in Peter Gabriel (II). "Down The Dolce Vita", "Here Comes The Flood", and "Exposure" also reference the Mozo story, as well.
According to the sleeve notes from the remastered version of So, it is also a reference to acid rain. Based on one interpretation of some of the lyrics it is also thought to refer to nuclear fallout.
- "Red Rain"
- "In Your Eyes" (special mix) [only on 12"]
Gaga is the instrumental track of tune I Go Swimming only published on the "Plays Live" record.
- "Red Rain" - 5:35
- "GA-GA (I go swimming instrumental)" - 4:31
- "Walk Through The Fire" - 3:31
- Jerry Marotta – drums
- Chris Hughes – Linn programming
- Stewart Copeland – hi-hat
- Tony Levin – bass
- David Rhodes – guitar, backing vocals
- Daniel Lanois – guitar
- Peter Gabriel – vocals, piano, CMI, Prophet
- For the live version on the Secret World album, the drums are handled by Manu Katché.
- Gabriel was joined by Michael Stipe and Natalie Merchant in a live performance of the song at the 1996 VH1 Honors.
- The John Tesh Project featuring Eric Marienthal on saxophone, covered the song on their 1997 album Sax All Night.
- The song was covered by Ill Niño on The Under Cover Sessions.
- It was also covered by the progressive metal band Queensrÿche, on their 2007 cover album, Take Cover.
- Coheed and Cambria covered the song live at Bonnaroo and Mountain Jam in 2009.