Monday, June 03, 2013

30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), Day 3: A Song For A Rainy Day

I should say first that there is very little that I don't like about rainy days.  I don't find them dark or depressing or forlorn at all.  On the contrary, I genuinely love a good rain, including and especially the blustery, electric, thunderous and torrential ones.  Even in its most violent expressions, there's something soothing and restorative about a good rainstorm.. It's like Nature's way of doing her cleaning.  Wash off the dust and grime, wipe clean what was made grungy and unsightly, rehydrate what has become parched and thirsty.  No, there's nothing to be dreaded about a good rain.

For that reason, I don't think of a "good rainy day song" in the same way that I suspect the 30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel) probably expects one to think of it.  So, I'm not picking today the song that I listen to when I'm feeling down-and-out or bereft, because that's not how I feel on rainy days.  Disconsolate songs are not the ones most appropriately suited because, to be honest, I think rainy days can be really, deeply, hopeful.  That's probably a consequence of the latent Nietzschean in me, the Nietzsche who wrote (in "The Grave Song" of Thus Spake Zarathustra) "only where there are graves can there be resurrections." The rain on rainy days resurrects.  It gives you time to consider: Just imagine what will show itself as life here soon.  Imagine what may be growing just beneath, still yet unseen, still yet uncultivated, still yet in need of sustenance and a little bit of coaxing.  Drink now, possibilities, drink your fill.

But for every living thing, we know, water is nothing without sunlight.  And so, of course, even if we don't find rainy days unpleasant, we still want the rain to exhaust itself before it drowns what it is meant to nourish.  Rain marks the absence of the sun, the sun's withdrawal from participation in that life-giving cycle, as much as it also marks an implicit promise of the its return.

No one, ever, has so beautifully captured this beauty that stymies understanding, this simultaneous threat/promise of rain, like Nina Simone's "Here Comes The Sun" (from her 1971 album of beautifully-executed covers by the same name).  Here's Nina Simone's version of the classic Beatles song:


For the record, if the contest today had asked me to pick an artist that I listen to on rainy days, it would have most definitely been Nina Simone. Her sound is one of the most unique in the history of American popular music, at once strong and vulnerable, singularly personal and universally representative, consonant and dissonant. This is the woman's whose voice has broken and mended a million hearts, who shouted from the stage at a Paris nightclub "I will never be your clown," who both defined and transcended her moment in history. 

Simone's life choices-- political, sartorial and musical-- were always curious.  So, it seems all the more fitting to pick her rendition of "Here Comes the Sun" as my "song for a rainy day."  This is a song about what is both happening and not happening right at that moment, in the dark, when its raining.  It's been a long, cold and lonely winter.  It feels like years since her little darling was with her.  The sun is hiding... but it's on the move, it's coming back.  Here it comes.

And it's alright.

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Nostalgic?  Read my Day Three entry from the 2011 version of the 30 Day Song Challenge.

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