Sunday, 18 August 2013
ELDER MUSIC: Rain 2
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
As I mentioned in a previous column titled In the Rain, I was born in the desert. Okay, this wasn’t a Sahara type situation, this was a southern Australia style desert. There weren’t shifting sand dunes or anything like that. There was, of course, a severe lack of rain.
Our house had a galvanised iron roof so on the rare times that it did rain, we could hear it throughout the house. It was music to our ears, the sound was magical.
I now live in Melbourne which is certainly not in a desert but still, the amount of rain we receive is rather less than you’d imagine. I live in an apartment on the top floor and the roof is aluminium so whenever it rains it sounds the same as when I was a whippersnapper.
It’s so evocative that if I’m playing music or watching TV whenever there’s a serious rain storm, I will turn them off just to listen to the rain on the roof. So, here are some rainy songs.
Given what I’ve just said, the obvious place to start is with the LOVIN’ SPOONFUL and Rain on the Roof.
I’ve liked the Spoonful from the first time I heard them, back when I was at Melbourne University. I particularly liked their main man, John Sebastian when he went solo, and collected his albums, only one of which, “Welcome Back,” really troubled the hit charts.
However, here’s the group with that song.
Back in my childhood, the call from many people in town is the name of the next song. The songsters in this case are THE TEMPTATIONS.
The Temps were the biggest group out of Motown and boy they were good. You probably know a lot of their songs and if you don’t, I feel sorry for you. Besides, you must be newcomers to this column if that’s so.
Here they are with I Wish It Would Rain.
DEE CLARK was an interesting singer. He could rival Little Richard in outrageous vocals or sing as smoothly as Ben E King. This sometimes happened in the same song. There’s also a touch of Jackie Wilson in there as well.
The one I’ve chosen may be one of those songs. If you’re of an age similar to mine, you’ll probably know already which one it is.
The song was probably Dee’s biggest hit, Raindrops.
If there’s any chance of including BUDDY HOLLY in a column I’ll take it and, surprise surprise, here he is.
The song is from after Buddy split with The Crickets to go on and perform with more varied musicians, a phase that was cut tragically short. This is Raining in My Heart.
JOHNNY RIVERS was one the unsung heroes of the sixties and seventies pop and rock world. Okay, he had a couple of hits but his talent wasn’t really recognised at the time. It still hasn’t been.
He is a fine singer and a good guitar player and why he isn’t a bigger star escapes me. I imagine he has made a good living out of what he did. He’s still out there playing and singing.
This is his song I remember most, Summer Rain.
It’s always good to get the great GORDON LIGHTFOOT into a column, and here he is.
There were a couple of his songs I could have chosen. I guess Toronto is a rainier place than Melbourne. Like Buddy, I’ll slip Gordie into my columns whenever I can. This is his beautiful song, Rainy Day People.
The appropriately named THE CASCADES bring us some more rainy sound effects on their song.
The Cascades started out singing in the navy, although they didn’t call themselves that at the time. Afterwards, they went through several name changes although surprisingly, no personal changes.
They eventually made it to Los Angeles where they had the infamous “Wrecking Crew” backing them. These were the musicians Phil Spector assembled to back his artists. A couple of people on this record are the great bass player Carol Kaye and some non-entity named Glen Campbell, playing guitar.
The song is their huge hit, Rhythm of the Rain.
The NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND are real favorites of mine but I haven’t featured them much in these columns.
They’ve been performing together now for nearly 50 years and there aren’t too bands around with that sort of longevity, especially not ones as good as the Nittys.
They also have a couple of songs that could have been included. I guess they’re from a rainy place as well. In the end I went for Stand a Little Rain.
If I mention the song Rainy Night in Georgia, I imagine most readers of this column would immediately think Brooke Benton. Well, Brooke had a really good version, but my preferred one is by the gentleman who wrote the song, TONY JOE WHITE.
Brooke wasn’t the only one who covered the song; many others have done the same and it’s not surprising as it’s a great one. It first appeared on Tony Joe’s second album and it was this that sparked interest in it.
Incidentally, his first album had a number of songs covered by others including Elvis, so he would have made a nice bit of change from that one as well. Get your ears ready for Tony's version of the song.
RANDY NEWMAN has a number of rain songs in his oeuvre. I expect it was due to having spent his younger days living in New Orleans.
The one I’ve chosen is I Think It's Going to Rain Today. The version I’m using is from his first “Songbook” album, where he rerecorded some of his songs just accompanying himself on piano.
I like this more than the original which was a bit too string-laden for my taste.