There is a long-standing metaphorical marriage of rain and sorrow. Painters, film-makers, musical artists — they have all used tempestuous imagery to denote loss, grief, and sadness.
In 1933 Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler penned “Stormy Weather, ” the quintessential breakup song first performed by Ethel Waters. Covered by greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Willie Nelson, the song for the dumped laments, “[w]hen he went away the blues walked in and met me… all I do is pray that the Lord above will let me walk in the sun once more.”
In that great tradition, various musical artists have coaxed rain from the clouds, recounting loss in a lyrical squall. In her song “Rain, ” Patty Griffin sings of an ending relationship, likens it to a death. “It’s hard to know when to give up the fight, ” she croons. Then, in her hauntingly beautiful chorus she sings:
strange how it rains now,
rows and rows of big dark clouds.
But I’m still alive underneath this shroud.
In 1991, Garth Brooks wrote “The Thunder Rolls, ” in which he weaves a dark tale of a woman who catches her truck-driving husband in an over-the-road affair. Brooks likens the jealousy of a woman to a raging gale, singing:
a strange new perfume blows
and the lightning flashes in her eyes
and he knows that she knows
and the thunder rolls.
Any self-respecting Garth Brooks fan knows the song ends badly for the carousing truck driver. Evidently, women in the South keep loaded pistols handy.
One would be hard pressed to find a song which positively associates rain and love. After all, every wedding planner knows that “rain on your wedding day” is a bad omen, or at least a little too ironic. Don’t you think?
To the artist, rain is the heavens’ way of sharing our pain. It’s nature’s commiseration. It’s the tangible manifestation of the emotional reality.
In an effort to delve deeper into the imagery, we’ve compiled a musical playlist for this month’s Tweetspeak Rain theme. It includes an eclectic mix of great rain songs, and we hope that you might use this list as a sort of prompt.
Press play, grab your journal, and see what happens. Then come back here and share your musings.
Who knows, maybe you’ll write the next “Stormy Weather.”
Last week, Chris Yokel took our Tweetspeak book spine prompt to another level. Instead of limiting himself to book spines, Chris created a CD spine poem from his musical collection. Intriguing, no? In “Night of Hunters, ” he writes:
Midnight on the water—
love and thunder whispers
in the wind.
Ten summoner’s tales call
an ancient muse
from the far country.
Make sure you jump to Chris’ place to read the rest of his amazing CD spine poem.
Would you consider following Chris’ lead and weaving your own CD spine poem this month? “Seth, CDs are so 2002, ” you might say. Well, scroll through your iTunes album list and create your own album/song poem. Let’s mix-tape it up this month and see what happens!
Tweetspeak’s August Rain Project.
1. This month, we will take our cues from book spines (see Glynn’s piece for more information). Look through your personal collection, the aisles at your local bookstore, or your neighbor’s bookcase and grab a few titles.
2. Arrange a poem completely from words on book spines, or use pieces of the titles to create your own found poem. Make sure your poems touch on themes of rain OR water.
3. Tweet your poems (and pictures of the book spines) to us. Add a #tsrain hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.
4. If you aren’t a twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box (we’ll use our mind’s eye to imagine your book spines).
5. Each week we’ll share a few of the poems. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.
Thanks to everyone who submitted their own piece of book spine poetry last week. Now, go create a new work and come back here to rain it on us!