Boomers Heard the Rain

For a good part of the country, it was a wet spring this year. In Mister Boomer’s neighborhood, it rained most days for the past two months, including six out of the last seven days, with most having periods of heavy rain. If your brain works at all like Mister Boomer’s, then your thoughts turned to John Fogerty’s rain-soaked plea from 1970, Who’ll Stop the Rain? Which in turn got Mister B thinking that there were a slew of songs during the boomer years where rain played a key role in the lyrics. The majority of these songs equated rain with sadness, while some used it as a portend of change.

Here are a few of Mister B’s favorite “rain” songs, in chronological order. He mercifully has limited the number of connections to YouTube videos to just two, but there are additional links to follow if you’d like to hear the rest of them:

Come Rain or Come Shine –
Billie Holiday (1955)
Judy Garland (1956)
Connie Francis (1959)
Ella Fitzgerald (1961)
Frank Sinatra (1962)

OK, Mister B has to admit this song wouldn’t make his own Top 10 list ordinarily, but the song has serious legs in that it was and continues to be recorded by so many people. Besides the above list, include Ray Charles and Barbra Streisand, plus recordings before the boomer years and after. This one has crossed into the classic category.

Click to hear Connie Francis’ version, perhaps the least known on the list.

Crying In the Rain – The Everly Brothers (1962)

I’ll never let you see
The way my broken heart is hurting me
I’ve got my pride and I know how to hide
All the sorrow and pain
I’ll do my crying in the rain

Poor man doesn’t want people to let people see him cry his broken heart out, so he’ll restrict his crying to the rain. Unbelievably great tune from true masters of early boomer music. No rain song list is complete without it.

Just Walking in the Rain – Johnny Ray (1956)

Just walking in the rain
So alone and blue
All because my heart
Still remembers you

Don’t you think walking in the rain and whistling go together, even as your whole world is crashing down? Ray’s version was a cover of a 1953 release, and hit NO. 2 on the Billboard charts, stopped from the top by Elvis’ Don’t Be Cruel.

Click to hear Johnny Ray’s version.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan (1963)

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

The meaning of this song still stirs up some controversy, but Dylan has spoken about it through the years. It’s a protest song to be sure, conjuring images of injustice, pollution and warfare. Dylan himself said, “It’s all one long funeral song.” Originally written in the form of a poem, Dylan once introduced it by saying the hard rain meant something big was about to happen.

Click to hear Mister Dylan sing it himself.

Walking In the Rain – The Ronettes (1964)

I want him, and I need him
And someday, some way, woah, oh, oh, I’ll meet him
He’ll be kind of shy, real good lookin’ too
And I’ll be certain he’s my guy by the things he’ll like to do

Like walking in the rain (like walking in the rain)
And wishing on the stars (and wishing on the stars) up above
And being so in love

How many songs have been written about walking in the rain as a romantic thing? This one is still worth hearing. Mister Boomer has awarded extra points for featuring sound effects of thunder and rain on the recording. Jay and the Americans had a hit with their cover of it in 1969.

Click to hear the Ronettes sing it.

Bus Stop – The Hollies (1966)

Bus stop, wet day
She’s there, I say
Please share my umbrella

All that summer we enjoyed it
Wind and rain and shine
That umbrella we employed it
By August she was mine

This song was written by the same guy who wrote For Your Love for The Yardbirds: Graham Gouldman. It’s just an excellent Hollies tune, and one of Mister B’s favorites, come rain or come shine.

Listen to The Hollies by clicking here.

Rain – The Beatles (1966)

Rain, I don’t mind,
Shine, the weather’s fine.
I can show you that when it starts to rain,
Everything’s the same,
I can show you, I can show you.
Rain, I don’t mind,
Shine, the weather’s fine.
Can you hear me that when it rains and shines,
It’s just a state of mind,
Can you hear me, can you hear me?

John penned this number, but the band has said it was the production of the song that was more important to them than the lyrics. It was released as the B-side to Paperback Writer, but more importantly, the backwards playback of recorded vocals and guitar work was a harbinger of what the group would do on later albums.

Click and listen to the Fab Four.

Rhapsody In the Rain – Lou Christie (1966)

Baby, the raindrops play for me
A lonely rhapsody ’cause on our first date
We were makin’ out in the rain

And in this car our love went much too far
It was exciting as thunder
Tonight I wonder, where you are?

The song brought a lot of criticism from the older generation, not to mention the Catholic Church, since it was about teens making it in a car in rainstorm. It was banned from many radio stations across the country, which of course, helped propel it to No. 16 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Take a listen to the original lyrics sung by Lou Christie.

Wish It Would Rain – The Temptations (1968)

Sunshine, blue skies, please go away
A girl has found another and gone away
With her went my future, my life is filled with gloom
So day after day I stay locked up in my room
I know to you, it might sound strange
But I wish it would rain, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Another song that equates rain with a broken heart, it was the last of The Temptations records produced by Smokey Robinson. The band experienced turbulent times after David Ruffin wanted to rename the group, giving him top billing the way the Supremes had done by being renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes. Three months later the friction caused the other members to kick out Ruffin and hire Dennis Edwards to replace him.

Click to hear this Ruffin/Temptations triumph of rain songs.

Rainy Night In Georgia – Brook Benton (1970)

Neon signs a-flashin’, taxi cabs and buses passin’ through the night
A distant moanin’ of a train seems to play a sad refrain to the night
A rainy night in Georgia, such a rainy night in Georgia
Lord, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world
I feel like it’s rainin’ all over the world.

If ever there was song that epitomized the feeling of being sad in the rain, this is it.

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J. Thomas (1970)

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin’ seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head; they keep fallin’…

Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote this one for the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Several people turned down the chance to record it, then B.J. Thomas took it on and had a hit.

Click to hear BJ Thomas.

Who’ll Stop the Rain – Credence Clearwater Revival (1970 )

Long as I remember the rain been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’ confusion on the ground.
Good men through the ages tryin’ to find the sun.
And I wonder still I wonder who’ll stop the rain.

The song that inspired this post is another one that has been analyzed and reanalyzed, so Mister B isn’t going to add to the ball of confusion, other than to say that when the rain keeps coming, that can’t be a good sign.

Listen now by clicking here.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain? – Credence Clearwater Revival (1971)

I want to know
have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

John Fogerty has stated that even though the band became rich and famous, its members were fighting with each other and were extremely unhappy, hence the lyric about rain on what should be a sunny day. The band broke up shortly after.

Click here to listen to CCR.

Riders on the Storm – The Doors (1971)

Riders on the storm
Riders on the storm
Into this house we’re born
Into this world we’re thrown
Like a dog without a bone
An actor out on loan
Riders on the storm

This was the last song all the original four members of The Doors recorded together, and the single was released the same week that Jim Morrison died. The depth and symbolism laced throughout the song requires books of explanations and connections to poets, philosophers and real-life occurrences, not possible in the short blurb by Mister B. Suffice it to say it was filled with the creativity, angst and trouble that was in Morrison’s mind.

Click to hear Morrison at his best.

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down – The Carpenters (1971)

What I’ve got they used to call the blues
Nothin’ is really wrong
Feelin’ like I don’t belong
Walkin’ around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.

We’ll let Karen Carpenter have the last word on rain songs. If you were in a decent mood before, listen to her version. That will fix it.

Karen Carpenter sings here.

Of course, there are many, many more; before, during and after the boomer years. (Purple Rain was from 1984, folks!). Here are some other boomer-era runner ups. Click the title if you want to hear it:

Baby, The Rain Must Fall – Glen Yarborough (1965)

MacArthur Park – Richard Harris (1968)

Fire and Rain – James Taylor (1970)

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again – The Fortunes (1971)

Laughter In the Rain – Neil Sedaka (1974)

What rain songs do you remember, boomers?

Boomers Helped Expand the Changing Roles of Fathers

Since another Father’s Day has just been celebrated, Mister Boomer couldn’t help but ponder the changing role fathers have played in family dynamics since the dawn of the Boomer Generation. Boomers grew up in an era when their dads accepted the role of fatherhood much like their fathers had, who in turn emulated the fathers before them; namely, a father’s chief roles were breadwinner and disciplinarian.

TV shows like Father Knows Best (1954-60) and Leave It To Beaver (1957-63) pictured the ideal dad, enjoying his downtime after work, in his easy chair and reading the newspaper while the mother of the house prepared dinner, cleaned and otherwise managed the home environment he and his children would inhabit. As depicted in the TV shows, dear old dad didn’t get involved with the children unless there was a lesson to be taught about manners or ethics, or authoritarian or legal regulations to be emphasized, whether that involved behavior in school, the neighborhood or at the dinner table.

Even when the non-traditional family was portrayed, such as on My Three Sons (1960-72), the role of the father was left unchanged. There, the father of the house was a widower. Rather than show the increased roles a man in his position might have to take on after the death of his wife, another male character — Uncle Charlie, a cigar-chomping ex-Navy man — was created to fulfill the role of the mother, while at times wearing a frilly apron, no less. Heaven forbid Fred MacMurray would head to the kitchen to prepare dinner after coming home from work, let alone ask his teenage boys to vacuum and do household chores.

As a result, Father’s Day was celebrated during the boomer years with utmost respect and in honor of whatever their dads wanted to do that day, much like any other day. In Mister Boomer’s neighborhood, that might entail a family cookout at a state park, or dad leaving early for a golf game, returning in time to fire up the backyard grill for dinner. Gifts were minimal. Cards may have been made in school by the younger kids; otherwise a store-bought card was in order for the children to give their dad. Since most fathers did not work in offices during that era, neckties, though traditional, were not the number one Father’s Day gift. Children generally gave their father either a homemade gift or something that pertained to his hobby or sport of choice.

Unceremoniously kicked out of factories and offices after soldiers came back from the War, women were designated as child bearers and household managers until the mid-60s. Boomers will recall how fatherly roles began to change when their mothers began to return to the workforce. According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of women working outside the home doubled between the years 1948 and 2000.

It has been Mister Boomer’s experience that even when moms went to work, they still did the vast majority of household work, including laundry, cleaning and cooking. However, Mister B and many other boomers recall the children at an early age taking on some of the responsibilities their fathers previously held, such as grass mowing and house painting. Their dads, at the same time, tended to increase their leisure time away from home for participating in or watching sports, always coupled with copious amounts of drinking and smoking.

As the last of the baby boomers born in 1964 reached school age, the role of fathers, changing throughout the turbulent 1960s, was continuing to be transformed. Marriages hit an all-time high around 1950, but the notion of divorce, seriously taboo for decades, was also on the rise at the same time. For most of the boomer years, marriage and divorce rates were comparable. The result did have an effect on fatherhood, as the preferred court arrangement was for the children to remain with their mother. The role of father was often played by a step-father when the mother remarried. This man could either became a benevolent father figure or a boomer kid’s nightmare.

Mister Boomer feels the predominant change that affected the roles of fathers who came after the Boomer Generation is the idea of a two-income family. Many mothers of boomers were satisfied being employed as waitresses, retail clerks and bank tellers, but women in the 1970s and beyond wanted careers as well as a family life. The men of the house gradually, and fairly reluctantly on the whole, capitulated to help raise the family. They increasingly changed diapers, attended PTA meetings, made school lunches, did laundry, vacuumed and participated in the upkeep of the house inside and out.

These days, stay-at-home dads have entered into the lexicon, reversing the roles of fathers and mothers from the early boomer years. In these scenarios, mothers are the major breadwinners, while household duties are executed by the father. Plus, now that the role of fathers has expanded to become one of co-parent instead of the clearly defined roles of previous decades, yard and outdoor work has more and more been delegated to professional service companies.

No one knows how Father’s Day might be celebrated 50 years from now, but looking back 50 years, boomers can say that dads have changed. Boomers participated in these changes when they became fathers, and the transformation continues.

How do you reflect on the role of fathers from your era as compared to today, boomers?