Friday, November 18, 2016

A Drop of Rain

Okay, I'm gonna get more than usually self-indulgent today, but please bear with me. I think it'll be worth it.

So -- some of you may know that my 90s band -- Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams, who were essentially the Floor Models Mark II (we liked to describe our stuff as Merseybeat Cowboy music) -- released an album in 1995 on Gadfly Records, a small but interesting indie label out of Vermont. (They had the entire Tonio K. catalogue, which delighted me).

The album's out of print, and the label seems to be defunct -- in fact, we've been trying to get in touch with Mitch Kantor, the guy who ran it, for a while now with no success. Mitch -- if you're out there....

Anyway, it's a really good record, IMHO, but it was abominably mastered -- in fact, back in the day we were all kind of heartsick about what had been done to our magnum opus. So, having a lot of time on my hands recently after finishing the Flo Mos Letter From Liverpool project, I thought to myself -- let's reissue it and do it right this time.

To which end ace drummer Glen "Bob" Allen, original Hi-Beams guitarist J.D. Goldberg and myself spent the summer re-mastering the record from the original tapes and spiffing up some bonus tracks (live and studio). And the whole thing now sounds insanely good; we'll be releasing it both online (Amazon, Spotify, iTunes etc) and in physical CD form in December.

So why am I bringing this up? Because while listening to the final master in the studio the other night, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard this song on big speakers for the first time in a while.

I've always thought it was an absolute masterpiece, and way better than we actually were, frankly. But in the aftermath of the election it now struck me as sadly relevant in a way it hadn't when we recorded it.

It's called "A Drop of Rain." It was written by Gerry Devine (rhythm guitar and vocals) who came up with it after watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. I'm on bass and keyboards; Glen and J.D. are on everything else.

On the long road back from Gettysburg
The dust burned in their eyes
And by the time they got through Maryland
There were no more tears to cry
Ghosts out on the Interstate
The cursed and the blessed
The dream that died that hot July
Was never laid to rest

A drop of rain falls on the highway
A tear stain on the stone
There's a long parade of headlights
Trying to find their way back home
All the promises were broken
But the memories still remain
As the cars go flashing by
Like drops of rain

A thousand crosses burned at night
Across this holy ground
And we kept on hearing the same lies
Untill we came around
We're all in this together now
The union is preserved
All these years and waiting still
For justice to be served

A drop of rain falls on the river
Floating down to New Orleans
The melting snows of Canada
Come wash this country clean
All the way from Tupelo
We watched that mystery train
Fade off into the night
Through drops of rain

I hear the Sunday church bells
As the morning lights the sky
And all that I can do
Is throw this thing in gear and drive
Trail smoke down the blacktop
Through the endless miles of corn
These wheels were set in motion
Before I was ever born

A drop of rain falls on my windshield
The wind is in my ears
You can smell the storm that's coming
It won't be long until it's here
I wish I had the words to tell you
But there's no way to to explain
About this wind that drives me
Like a drop of rain

I get chills listening to it, and I think it's amazing simply as a poem.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the reissue as we get near to the actual release date.

Have a great weekend, everybody.


Jai Guru Dave said...

Very nice indeed! Gerry sounds like McGuinn at times.
What is he doing these days?

DrBob said...

DrBob says this is a masterful composition with song writing and musicianship to boot. It is a lamentation for our time as the era of Jim Crow slides into the present and beneath our feet. I have the original and have always liked it...wish I'd been at the cans just to hear the playback in the studio, but "Glen Bob" absolutely nails it top to bottom. If you do any re-mastering, you've got to let us hear it!

steves said...

I still remember the first time I heard this, and my sense of awe has not diminished at all...Gerry sure wrote some great stuff! IMO, what really makes the song pop, from a lyrical perspective, is the shifting perspective from "them" in the first verse, to "we" in the second, and finally, to "I" in the third. Simply beautiful. I still have my original CD, too, which has never gathered much dust at all. (Even had it on heavy rotation in the car last year.)

Anonymous said...

Of course this song plays to our current worries.

Captain Al

buzzbabyjesus said...

Alas, due to technical problems over here, all I get is a gray rectangle where the player should be.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful song, great performances from everybody. Good lyrics. This is the kind of message this Byrds-y modality was designed to convey. Less seriously, but no less intense is Heyman's "Civil War Buff".

Dave said...

Based on this song, here's one re-issue sold. Seriously good stuff.

Dave F.

buzzbabyjesus said...

World class. Sounds terrific. I like the solo's slight Neil Young sounds.