Friday, January 15, 2010

I Wish It Would Rain by The Temptations

OMG. Ok people, look, just because someone is from Seattle doesn’t mean that they love rain. I don’t know how many times people and said or implied that I love rain because I grew up in the Seattle area, but it seems to ALWAYS come up.

Livescience.com reported a study by San Francisco-based Weatherbill, Inc. They ranked American cities by the amount of rainfall they got and Seattle didn’t even make the top 10. Heck, the first city from the Pacific Northwest to even make the list was Olympia, Washington (#24).

Even if Seattle was in the fact that wettest city in the United States, how do you make the assumption that people in Seattle like rain so much? That’s like saying that I love political corruption because I live in Chicago or that I someone loves unemployment because they live in Flint, Michigan.

So, for the love of everything that is good and holy on this planet, do not, I repeat DO NOT pull the “wow you’re from Seattle, it rains a lot there you must love rain” line next time you meet someone from Seattle. If you pull that line on me, well, you might feel a rain of fury coming from this disgruntled little Asian man.

Now while I dislike rain, I guess I can understand it’s benefits. We need fresh water to live, I love trees and green lawns and sometimes as The Temptations remind us raindrops can hide teardrops. [okay, don't worry everyone, I've calmed down enough, let's talk about music. . . ]


("I Wish It Would Rain" starts 2 minutes in)

By 1967, Motown had established itself as a force in popular music. Constantly developing their sound, Smokey Robinson who was responsible for The Temptations biggest hit “My Girl” (which I discussed in this earlier post) stepped aside and songwriter Norman Whitfield led the Temptations into new musical avenues.

Working with lyricist Barrett Strong, Whitfield introduced funk and psychedelic sounds utilizing sound effects and experimental production techniques. Many of Whitfield’s most well known songs like “Cloud Nine” are fast-tempo explorations of war, poverty, politics and drugs. Whitfield’s ballads showed a different side, sensitivity and a personal experience with love that no one could express better than “The Temptations.”

If David Ruffin’s soulful and joyous performance on “My Girl” doesn’t blow you away (not really sure how that is possible) then his tear-stained vocals and agony-filled delivery in “I Wish It Would Rain” has got to get to you.

“I Wish It Would Rain” has brilliant lyrics. The internal logic in this song is clever as the protagonist hopes for rain so that when he does outside no one knows he is crying. While Whitflield’s experimental effects using actually recorded sounds was cutting edge at the time the true special effects in this song are the Temptations.

The Temptations do the standard “echo the lead singer” job of the back-up singers but there are other time where they take it a step further. In the second verse when their voice cascade on the word “crying” falling like tears beautifully paints the lyrics. This isn’t something that you necessarily consciously notice when listening but it adds layers of meaning to the listening experience displaying amazing craft and musical expression.

Have I ever wished that it would rain? No, never. Do I like rain? No. Does “I Wish It Would Rain” rock my world? Yes. Listening to this song almost makes me forget how angry I get when people ask me about being from Seattle and loving rain. . .

almost.

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