Monday, March 19, 2012

Go Ahead And Rain by JD Souther

JD Souther could have been a member one of the most successful bands in pop music history, The Eagles. He was instrumental in the creation of the band encouraging Glen Frey to play with a group of musicians behind his then-girlfriend Linda Ronstadt. Souther co-wrote some of the Eagles most popular songs, played with the band but refused to join.

As the Eagles developed as a band, members of The Eagles including Don Henley continued to sing his praises and work with him. Even when the Eagles were the hottest ticket around in the 1970s, Souther stayed out of the limelight focusing on his songwriting over fame.

I first became of aware of Souther when Don Henley talked about him in an introduction to “The Heart Of The Matter.”

I praised this song in an earlier post for capturing the nuance and emotional complexity of love.

I wasn’t really sure how much Souther contributed to the song so when I started to listen to JD Souther’s most recent solo album Natural History, I didn’t really know what to expect. The first track on the album is “Go Ahead And Rain.”  After about thirty seconds in, I was absolutely speechless.

Everything about this song is what I love about The Eagles. To say this song is beautiful doesn’t begin to acknowledge the depth of the songwriting. The melody and the chords feel organic and natural but twist and wind around each other in a fresh and interesting way.

The lyrics are easy to understand on a literal level. Like Hemingway, Souther manages to use simple language to express the complexity of the human experience. The basic idea of this song is that he asking a girl to love him which he describes as “let it rain down on me.” There’s a beauty in being surrounded by love as you would be with rain but also a mystery and darkness as rain often represents sorrow. Lines like “you know this old world would keep spinning around without a lucky guy like me,” adds a layer of self-doubt which Souther mixes with hope as he asks this woman to love him.

He doesn’t know how this woman goes on with his sorrows, but that doesn’t stop his dream. It’s like  he doesn’t understand this woman, but she’s part of him all of the same. At the song, Souther mournfully sings “because maybe things will never be the same again.”

Every encounter, no matter how seemingly insignificant changes . Sometimes we don’t sense it but sometimes we can. It is the moments that change us that we can’t deny that open up ourselves to take action to make our dreams reality.

JD Souther is an interesting figure in popular music and though it may be hard to understand why he passed up being part of one of the most successful bands ever that he helped create, I'm glad that he understands the depth of the human heart to articulate to us the parts of ourselves that only music can express.

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