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, sounding similar to piano trio in C minor 3rd movement by Josep Suk.[citation needed]

"The Rain in Spain"
Julie Andrews Rex Harrison Robert Coote My Fair Lady.JPG
Julie Andrews as Eliza, Rex Harrison as Higgins, Robert Coote as Pickering in "The Rain in Spain" segment, 1957
GenreMusical theatre
Composer(s)Frederick Loewe
Lyricist(s)Alan Jay Lerner
Songs from the film My Fair Lady
Act I
Act II

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][1] – 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 "proper" long-As. 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", in which Eliza had failed before by dropping the leading 'H'.


The phrase does not appear in Shaw's original play Pygmalion, on which My Fair Lady is based, but it 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 he 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, both of which were later used in the song in My Fair Lady.[2]

In other languagesEdit

The musical has been translated into many languages, with Eliza speaking Berlin, Vienna, Stockholm, Göteborg, Amsterdam, and Budapest dialects.[citation needed] Versions of "The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain" in various languages include:

  • Hebrew: "ברד ירד בדרום ספרד הערב" ("Barad yarad bidrom sfarad haerev": Hail fell in southern Spain this evening.)[3]
  • Hungarian: "Lenn délen édes éjen édent remélsz."[4]
  • Dutch: "Het Spaanse graan heeft de orkaan doorstaan." (The Spanish grain has survived the storm.)

Usage in other popular cultureEdit

  • A 1985 British television commercial for Heineken parodies the scene. Sylvestra Le Touzel plays a woman who speaks posh, and after a drink of Heineken a cockney accent appears. It was ranked at number 9 in Campaign Live's 2008 list of the "Top 10 Funniest TV Ads of All Time",[5] and at number 29 in Channel 4's list of the "100 Greatest TV Ads" in 2000.[6]
  • 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."[7][8]
  • 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."[9][10] The song is included on the album Forbidden Broadway, Vol. 2.
  • 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").[11]
  • 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.[12]
  • 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.[13]
  • 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."[14]


  1. ^ Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English 2: The British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 307–308. ISBN 0-521-24224-X.
  2. ^ Pascal, Valerie, "The Disciple and His Devil," McGraw-hill, 1970. p. 83.
  3. ^ "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 (, November 19, 1998". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Dilatato corde - Szárnyaló szívvel - Dudás Róbert Gyula - Némo honlapja ~ Musicalmúzeum". Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  5. ^ "The Top 10 funniest TV ads of all time". Retrieved 2015-08-12.
  6. ^ "The 100 Greatest TV Ads". London: Channel 4. 2000. Archived from the original on 18 June 2001. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
  7. ^ The Internet Movie Transcriptions Database, "Family Guy S3 E1-11."
  8. ^ Planet Family Guy, "Subtitle Scripts Archived 2012-09-14 at"
  9. ^ Kilian, Michael, "Offing Broadway Satirical Revue Grows Into A Star-Bashing Biggie," Chicago Tribune, 6 November 1988, p. 28. (Full Text)
  10. ^ Kuchwara, Michael, "Alessandrini zeroes in on next Broadway target ," Knight-Ridder, 5 March 2000.
  11. ^ Clausen, Alf and Michael Price, "Not On My Clothes," T C F Music Publishing, Inc., 2006.
  12. ^ Stephen King (2011). Salem's Lot. Random House. p. 653.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-13. Retrieved 2016-03-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2014-06-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit