I seem to be thinking a lot about lyrics and meaning behind songs lately. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it is because there is nothing “new” in Duranland, in terms of music, so I’m looking for a song or two to re-listen to. It seems like at times like these, when I’m in a mood like I am, I need to discover the genius of a song I knew and never gave much of a chance. Does anyone have any suggestions? Well, one song that I rediscovered a number of years ago while in the same mood was Hold Back the Rain. It was like I had never heard it before or never noticed how wonderful it is. Now, it is definitely a member of my Top 10 Duran songs. This week, I started to think about this one again. Why? The answer to this is simple. I have been rereading Chapters 33-40 in John’s autobiography for Monday’s book club. What era do these chapters cover? Yep, you guessed it. 1982. John, in fact, spends some time in one of the chapters discussing a number of the songs on the Rio album as he points out how absolutely brilliant that album was. Thus, when thinking about both the quality of the songs on that album and John’s life, in particular, during that time, I immediately thought about Hold Back the Rain as this song fits both the music and John’s life. Then, I wondered if everyone knew the story behind the song, at least lyrically.
Until a few years ago, I had no idea what the song, Hold Back the Rain, was about. I figured it literally could do with trying to control weather conditions. I have also used the song to describe life on tour. In particular, the lines, “No time for worry cause we’re on the roam again (hold back the rain)
The clouds all scatter and we ride the outside lane (hold back the rain),” seemed to fit the touring lifestyle. It implies that there is no time to deal with anything because you are off to the next location and the next show and that there is nothing but smooth sailing ahead. Obviously, the reference to the outside lane could be referring to a road trip and lanes on the highway. Yet, I knew that there were other lines that didn’t seem to fit this idea, including “People tell me I haven’t changed at all but I don’t feel the same. And I’ve bet you’ve had that feeling too you can’t laugh all the time.” Wait. Wouldn’t touring be fun and filled with laughter all the time? Why would this change you? Oh, how naive I was. At this point, I figured that I would never truly understand what the heck Simon was singing this time when I saw a Duran documentary in which this song was discussed. Here’s the clip that explained it all:
Clearly, according to what Simon said here, the lyrics were about John and how he was “going off the rails a little bit”. I had no idea. This clip was a revelation to me when I first saw it. Anyway, now that I’m rereading John’s book and the part during this era, I started thinking again about this song, about how Simon wrote it about him and how Simon slipped the lyrics under his door. I wonder if it is still true that John never said anything to Simon about these lyrics. If so, I wonder why not? Simon clearly was trying to tell John something and show his concern.
This led me to think about the times that I saw Duran play this song live (and for the record–they need to play it a lot MORE). How did John react to it? Did John ever play this song live during his solo days? I think I remember hearing a bootleg somewhere but I can’t find anything on youtube. Here’s a clip from 2005. I notice that John is center stage singing along the lines about being changed and not feeling the same. Hmm…
After thinking about this song through this lens of John’s life at that time, I know that it made the song seem fresh to me and so much more important than before. My love for it grew as I appreciate it more. Of course, now it really makes me want to hear it live again…