No rain today. Just sunny and cold. I'm trying not to keep thinking about the need for rain. Of course, when you are trying not to think about rain inevitably you think about... rain...it's like trying not to think of the color red. Really- don't think about the color red for five minutes and you'll know what I mean. I've spent a bunch of time downloading tunes onto the Nano the past few days, so today my mind wandered to songs that were about rain, or somehow reference rain. And there are a few of them that stand out:
Love Reign o'er Me- a classic rock ballad, an all time epic from a great album by the Who. Reinvigorated by the Pearl Jam cover in which Eddie Vedder showed that even though he may lack the range of a young Roger Daltry- the guy has amazing pipes and amazing depth.
Riders on the Storm- c'mon. Along with "LA Woman", this tune made that album. Period. Eerie- dark- foreboding. A journey into the dark side of the Lizard King.
Who'll Stop the Rain- Now here is a classic Credence Clearwater Revival tune- and it's a song laden with secondary meaning. But how many bands have two songs about rain? (can't forget "Have You Ever Seen Rain" by CCR). The former still rekindles anti-war sentiments for me whenever I hear it- which isn't often enough.
Let it Rain- My "go to" song each year when the last fruit is off the vine and in the barn. Great work by Clapton (I think while with Derek and The Dominoes), although if Jeff Healy had covered this with the same intensity he displayed in his cover of "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" he might have been the "go to" reference for "Let it Rain".
Texas Flood gotta give a shout to Stevie Ray Vaughn. You thought I'd mention "The Sky is Crying", but that's too easy. Yeah Stevie, you keep singing that it's flooding down in Texas because you're baby ain't returning your calls and that you're leaving her, but you know it's bone dry and the phone lines are just fine- she's got herself another man. Epic stuff.
A Horse With No Name- what the hell was THAT song about? And what happened to that band (America)? When I was a kid they played that song every feakin fifteen minutes. Which shows how fucked up everything was in the late 60's/early 70's. But just try to not think about THAT melody- and it will stick in you like a barbed hook.
Mandolin Rain- Hornsby. One breakthrough album with two epic tunes ("The Way It Is" being the other) for a guy who after years of being one of "the" guys suddenly became "the guy". Christ, he even played with the Dead. Killer tune- still fresh- perfect to snuggle up on a rainy day.
I'll Be- Okay, maybe a bit pompous and bloated. And Edwin McCain seems to be doing better writing for other folks than as a performer. But when he gets to the "And rain falls, angry on the tin roof, as we lie awake in my bed" line, who doesn't see that in their mind's eye?
November Rain- Sorry. G&R had three great tunes- maybe four if you count Mr Brownstone (although I could go a long time without hearing Sweet Child O' Mine). This tune wasn't one of them. But last year was twenty years since Appetite for Destruction, and I just gotta say "hey" to Axel Rose- the greatest recluse since Howard Hughes.
I Can't Stand the Rain- not a great R&B tune. But Tina sang it, so that's gotta mean something.
Rainmaker- easily the weakest tune on the Low Spark of High Heeled Boys album, which wasn't a great album anyways- waaaay too much flute. I still do not understand how I listened to the title track over and over and over for days, despite the 11 plus minute length. Oh yeah- it was the mescaline. Not Winwood's finest work by any means- I sometimes think it was the cool shape of the album cover that got this album noticed. Hmmm, maybe marketing works.
Red Rain- Peter Gabriel came through on this one. A bit if an opus, but a pretty emotional song that supported it's own weight.
There are a lot more, but these were pretty easy to remember. But the best one of it's ilk might be an instrumental.
Danny Gatton was an extraordinary musician by any measure- and he absolutely shredded the guitar. He got a Grammy nomination one year (lost to Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" which my son now thinks he can play because it's on Guitar Hero- yeah, right!) and more importantly, had the respect and admiration of his peers- some very heavy hitting guitar players among them. The guy could go from playing bebop to country in a blink of an eye- and woe to the fool who tried to match him onstage. Gatton took his own life in 1994. When someone great passes, a lot of times people will say "we won't se another like him soon" or some similar sentiment- but in this case, it is totally apt.
On 88 Elmira Street he did a cover of the Beach Boys tune "In My Room" that is absolutely stunning- his guitar work just shimmers- with a purity of tune apropos for the song, and a sense of serenity that is so laid back it belies the intensity of the guitar work. It ends with the sound of distant thunder and rain, and is one of those times the cover transcends the original. My nod for "Best rain Song". Check it out.
And pray for rain- we need it.