Category Archives: Before the Rain

Interpretations of Before the Rain

Before the Rain is a song that has been suggested a few times whenever I do a blog about what a certain Duran song means.  On one hand, I have always wanted to tackle it.  On the other hand, I doubt I will do it justice.  It is very clear to me that this is some of the best lyrics of Simon’s.  It feels like pure poetry and the music just brings the mood of the poem to life.  I have to admit that it is one of my favorite tracks off of All You Need Is Now and probably one of my favorite Duran songs of all time.  It is a song that spoke to me right away and formed an immediate connection.  Thus, for me, this song has come to represent a very specific meaning for me, personally.  Overall, we know that the song ended the album and was also used to open the concerts when the band returned to playing after Simon’s vocal problems in the fall of 2011.  Here is a clip of the song from A Diamond in the Mind:

Now, before we dive into possible meanings, let’s look at the lyrics:

A stormy summer
Is rolling closer
Lighting up this holy smoker
And if this drinking
Could ease the thinking
I toast to my home truth with this glass

All rise you promises broken
Call my lovers by their names
Lost hearts and words
That are spoken to the wind
Which blows before the rain

Little pin-pricks
And how my ears bleed
On the bomb ticks that is my heartbeat
In every life-flash
In every car crash
I hear the silence waiting to fall

All rise you promises broken
Call my lovers by their names
Lost hearts and words
That are spoken to the wind
Which blows before the rain

For all I carry
Are murdered secrets
The price of my blue
Star-eyed weakness
And so we travel
And we unravel
Towards the place
Where all loose ends go

All rise you promises broken
Call my lovers by their names
Lost hearts and words
That are spoken to the wind
Which blows before the rain

As always, when I start to examine a song’s possible meaning, I look online and to see what interpretations are out there.  Well, as you would expect because the song is so new, there are not many interpretations out there.  The one I did find was a general “about rough times” with the rain representing a kind of “rock bottom”.  This not very specific idea seems very plausible to me since there are many lines to indicate rough times, such as “a stormy summer” (storm as metaphor for problems), “promises broken”, “lost hearts and words”, “we unravel” and more.  Obviously, though, Simon made sure that he was going to use more metaphorical language to describe these rough times.  Yet, is that all there is to it?
According to this website here, Simon said that the song was about “a man surrounded by these ghosts of guilt.  He realizes he has to keep moving but they will always come with him.”  I can definitely see the guilt aspect in the lyrics.  For example, he drinks in order to “ease the thinking” or to stop thinking.  Perhaps, he needs to stop thinking about what he has done.  The line about “promises broken” could indicate that he broke promises.  Maybe, he broke promises to “lovers” that he could name.  These broken promises caused heartache (“little pin-pricks and how my ears bleed on the bomb ticks, that is my heartbeat”).  Of course, whatever was done, whatever was said has never really been resolved (“loose ends”).  Then, it is possible that the confession and the request for forgiveness is said aloud to no one but the wind (“spoken to the wind”), which is followed by tears (“rain”).  Now, obviously, I’m just trying to use this supposed quote of Simon’s to interpret the lyrics.  I could be way off.  Yet, I enjoy the task of trying, much like what is done in literature classes with classic pieces of literature or poetry.
For me, personally, this song has always represented a time of grief.  As I mentioned before, I heard this song at a time in my life in which I lost my beloved cat and my only grandparent.  The rain clearly represented the tears of grief.  In fact, I listened to this song as my family drove to Chicago for my grandma’s funeral.  It was New Year’s Eve 2010.  As the family moved into position at the cemetery, the rain began and I looked over at my mother (she was my mom’s mom) as she stood alone and the song appeared in my mind.  Then, the stormy summer idea has proved to be true as well for me.  In 2011 and 2012, I was reeling from the political actions of the winter and the upcoming elections to try and fix the damages.  I also faced significant changes in my job.  In 2011, I moved to teaching a different grade at the end of the year.  In 2012, I interviewed and took a position at a different school.  Now, in 2013, I face another “stormy summer” as I will be looking for a different position all together due to the “promises broken” regarding the state of education and my teaching career, in general.  I’m sure that there will be “words that are spoken to the wind” by me before it is all over.  Thus, for me, this song has come to represent the incredible difficult emotions connected to grief of all kinds, including deaths of loved ones and deaths of a big part of oneself.
So, what do the rest of you think?  What is this song about?  What does it mean for you?
-A

What do Before the Rain and Hungry Like the Wolf have in common??

I love when a good blog topic gets thrown at me as though someone turned on a light in a dark room.  The place becomes flooded with light, and navigation is much easier.

Yesterday Amanda dared to ask the question “Before the Rain or Too Bad You’re So Beautiful?” For the uninitiated, Amanda asks a daily question on our Facebook page as well as Twitter.  Those who wish to reply, do so – and a tally is taken.  The results are then posted the following day along with another question.

Yesterday my answer was Before the Rain.  I don’t think that I would have answered that way about two years ago (maybe slightly less than two years ago).  The album had just come out, and while TBYSB (I know there are those out there in readerland that hate the acronyms. I apologize and I’m not trying to ruin the spirit of the song. It’s just faster to type!) is a fun song that I liked immediately, Before the Rain was tougher for me.  I felt it was very dark, very mysterious, and just a harder song for me to really get into.  The compelling part of this tale is that here, two years later – I adore Before the Rain much more than I do TBYSB.  I still like both songs, I don’t skip TBYSB in the car or anything, but my nod goes to Before the Rain.

Why?

Here is the beauty behind these questions – it all comes down to experiences and emotion.  What hits each of us on an emotional level is what we will likely identify with best, isn’t it?  For me, when I hear Before the Rain, the very first thing I remember is that initial show (for me) last October in Valley Center, CA.  The band entering the stage, then Simon approaching center stage and singing.  I couldn’t even look up at him for fear of crumbling into a pile of nothing.  It was the first show I’d been to since the UK in May when Simon had his vocal problems.  It was a very emotional moment for me, and once I got past the initial swell, I was able to ride the waves of triumph.  Since then, every time I hear the song, I recognize what a special moment it is for Simon on stage – it’s just himself and the crowd.  The band stays in the darkness for the first half of the song, and it’s a great way to begin the show.  For me personally, I haven’t had that type of emotional bonding experience with TBYSB.

Yet on the other hand, our dear friend Bryony insists she’s had that moment. While the song was not sung at all on tour, it was performed in Oxford at the rehearsal shows.  Bryony had that moment of connecting directly with Simon while singing a line or two, and as she aptly puts “Took it to a whole new level!”  I think we all can relate to this!

Naturally, this is not the only song I’ve had the fortune…or misfortune given the anecdote I’m about to tell, to have a “moment” that changes everything.  I don’t think it’s any surprise that along with the hundreds of Duran songs I adore, there might be a few…a mere couple…that I’ve heard so many times that I probably could live a good life without ever hearing again.  Maybe.  I am also certain that most of you can name at least ONE of these songs. (If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably know.) I would say that prior to last October, it was getting to the point that when I would hear this song, my eyes would nearly roll back in my head – and not from delight.  I felt that it was time to let the song retire, I didn’t care that at one time in my own Duran Duran fandom “history” it was the first video I’d ever seen by the band, nor did I care that it was probably the song that launched their career here in America. I was over it.  The wolf would have been starved to death years ago, don’t you think??  I was no longer hungry, and admittedly, I was over it.

I don’t know how this news was made obvious to certain band members.  Perhaps it was the eye rolling. Maybe it was the crossed arms. I don’t really know for sure. All I do know is that in Valley Center, I thought I was getting a reprieve.  We’d made it through quite a bit of the show, and no HLTW.  I was excited!  Then they started playing a song with a drum beat.  I didn’t recognize the beat until a split second later, and oh was I mad when I realized they’d changed the opening of the song.  Damn them for tricking me. I must have pulled a face, because the next thing I know, I’ve got the guitar player singing the ever-delightful “do do do” section in front of me…like unmistakably right there in front of me.  Nice.  I am sure he got a lot of eye rolling out of me that night, but he laughed it off, as did I.  What can you do when they’re right there in front of you basically demanding that you sing?  I sang!

I felt certain that when I went over to the UK for the shows Amanda and I were doing last November and December (actually I think it was a year ago today that we were in Glasgow??), even though our seats were right in front of Dom Brown, he’d forget. There’s no way he’d actually remember me. I’m one person in a zillion, right?  Wrong. Every single night that damn song would begin he’d look over and grin at me while he was singing the chorus. (Not necessarily a bad thing, I might add.) Then he and John would play guitar and bass right in front of us – that part was just a part of the choreography that goes along with the gig, but even so – they made it nearly impossible for me to do much but enjoy the song. This continued through the summer shows we did in the southeastern US this summer – apparently I’m more recognizable than I thought – especially in the front row. Yeah, funny Dom. Now that stupid song plays when I’m in the car or here at home and I can’t help but grin with the memory. Nice. So I suppose the song can stay in their setlist, and as I’ve promised – I won’t even roll my eyes when they start the familiar chords.

(I am totally lying…but I’ll also give a small, sly grin.)

The point being that even if your experience with the band comes from watching a video at a certain time with your friends and giggling over something, or it’s remembering how you felt the very first time you watched Sing Blue Silver on VHS and you heard Tiger Tiger playing as the clip of all those semi-trucks were traveling down a road in the US – those are the emotions that drive each of us to love whatever song we love.  Some songs have those moments attached.  Other songs really don’t – for me I could say that Hallucinating Elvis is one of those songs.  I don’t completely dislike the song, but it doesn’t have any real meaning or memory for me.  For you, it’s probably another song entirely.  It might even be one of MY favorites, because that’s how this all works, isn’t it?

In celebration of the Glasgow show…here’s a clip from YouTube.  I’m sure you’ll recognize the song.  

-R

Personal Meanings

Music is a powerful force to many people, including myself.  Like many of you, I’m sure, music has always provided a kind of soundtrack to my life.  I have songs that will always mean something to me because they captured how I was feeling at a specific time in my life.  Obviously, in many cases, that soundtrack has included quite a bit of Duran Duran.  (Shocking, isn’t it?!  😀 ) Today, I was reminded of the power some songs have, for me.  This morning, I had coffee with a woman who is involved in a political group that I’m the leader for.  The goal of this morning’s meeting was to get this woman to become more active in my group.  We had a good conversation and much of the beginning focused on current affairs both locally and nationally.  The end of the conversation took a turn, however, as she discussed a family member who is reaching the end of his life.  I was instantly brought back to a recent time in my life.  As this woman was talking about her family member, I was thinking about my grandmother and my cat, both of whom passed away in December.  Those feelings of grief were brought up to the surface in such a deep and profound way.  After I left her, I drove over to my mother’s as I felt it necessary to be with her.  As I stood in my mother’s kitchen, I was reminded of a moment that took place this past December as we were both grieving.  This moment took place a few days after the digital version of All You Need Is Now was released.  I was playing the album for her as I had done with all of their previous albums since I became a fan in 1984.  We got to the song, Before the Rain, which seemed to fit our current state of being as we struggled with our losses.  From that moment forward, that song has represented grief to me.  Interestingly enough, a few days later, my family and I traveled to attend my grandmother’s funeral.  The song seemed fitting there, too, as it was raining while my brother, cousins, father, uncle and I carried her casket over to her final resting place.  Now, I highly doubt that my meaning for the song matches the intent of the lyrics.  Yet, I do appreciate how Duran’s lyrics are typically open to interpretation as many of us can and have done what I have done with Before the Rain.  We have added our own personal meaning to songs.

Another song that seems fitting today is Finest Hour.  This song, I’m sure, has meant many things to many people.  I remember hearing an interview in which Simon talked about how the lyrics refer to a speech given during World War II, expressing how Britain’s participation in attempting to defeat Hitler would be their “finest hour”, no matter the end result.  After hearing that interview, I have always connected “fight” to that song.  Obviously, the song could be used to talk about any kind of fight.  A personal battle or a political battle.  Today has also seen my political side come out in full force as my rights have seemingly come under attack by the leader of my state and more.  Instead of rolling over and giving up, I am doing what I need to do in order to stand up for myself and others like me.  I am fighting.  I may not get what I want but I know that I will still be proud of how I will battle.  Thus, Finest Hour fits my current mood.  I will “take back the life that I want to lead”.  Everyone can be sure of that.

I appreciate that Duran Duran has been there during life’s little moments, like today’s political and work related battles, and they have been there for big moments like losing a loved one.  For that, I can’t thank them enough as these songs have allowed me a chance to feel more deeply and they have pushed me into action.  I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who can say these things about their music.  I’m sure that most Duranies out there have songs that represent their moments, their lives.  No crappy presale and no political ideology and no setback can take that away from any of us. 

-A

Before the Rain-The Daily Duranie Review

We finish up the reviews of the digital version of All You Need Is Now with Before the Rain.

Amanda’s take:
Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song screams emotion to me.  The first minute or so is filled with intense sadness with both keyboards and cello.  It works beautifully, despite not hearing much of the other instruments like guitar, bass and drums.  The keyboards beginning around 40 seconds bring me back to the beauty of the Chauffeur.  This first minute also makes me think of church music–maybe organ like.  It definitely makes me feel like it is about something deep, perhaps spiritual.  Other instruments join in around one minute and only work to build up the emotions.  It is almost like the feelings that were once buried deep are rising towards the surface as the song progresses.  Something worth noting is the cascade of keyboard sounds around the two minute marker.  This additional adds to the supernatural feeling, which happens right before the big push of instruments and emotions.  The feelings have finally crashed to the surface and can no longer be ignored.  Then, of course, the song begins to quiet down again, both musically and vocally to coincide with the ending of the emotional outburst.  What is left is wonderful military sounding drums and deeper level of emotion.  Less obvious but still as painful.  The song ends with quiet notes. 

Vocals:  To me, Simon is nearly perfect here.  His voice is crisp and filled with feeling.  His singing perfectly matches the instrumentation.  When the instruments are quieter, so is Simon.  When they get loud and demanding of attention, his vocals match.  They are in sync. 

Lyrics:  Much like Rhonda related the lyrics to Runway Runaway to her personal existence, I have been able to relate to this one.  The lyrics are beautifully poetic in a way that does seem to recall early Duran.  The meaning isn’t very obvious and absolutely left to interpretation.  My interpretation has everything to do with the losses I have experienced lately.  As you all know, my beloved kitty, Othello, died on December 17th.  My grandma of 97 years followed him ten days later.  For me, this song absolutely is about loss and grief.  Simon sings, “In every life flash, in every car crash, I hear the silence waiting to fall.”  I feel like I know exactly what he means by this.  It seems to me that there is strange sort of silence that happens before death.  I know that Othello was silent before he passed away, which was unusual for him.  I also know that my grandma became silent a couple of days before she died.  Then, of course, the rain could absolutely stand for physical grief, for crying.  This idea of speaking “to the wind” makes sense to me as well.  I have asked for answers to no one, “to the wind”.  The song ends with this idea of  people who “travel, as we unravel towards the place where all loose ends go.”  In this way, the song has told me that there is closure.  Peace.

Production:  I can’t imagine that anything could have been done differently with either the production or the mix to make this song better.  It seems to me that every element did what it needed in order to make a quality song.

Overall:  This song, for reasons explained above, has been played over and over again for the last couple of weeks.  It expresses how I have been feeling.  For that, I suppose it is hard to truly be objective about this one.  I wonder what I would have thought of this one if my circumstances would be different.  Nonetheless, the song captures an “emotional punch,” as JT described it in his blog.  The instrumentation, the vocals and the lyrics work together to create a beautiful piece of music. 

Cocktail Rating:

Rhonda’s Turn:


Musicality/Instrumentation:  This song begins with the most haunting chords I’ve heard in awhile.  For the first verse of the song all we hear is synthesizers and Simon’s voice, and in the second, we get a very soft backbeat – similar to a heartbeat of sorts.  It all seems to slowly crescendo (raise in volume) to the middle of the song, when bass and drums are added.  I think that this is another song that takes more than one listen to really connect.  The music is exacting and slow – I feel as though each second, each beat, is being strung out to its entire value.  That effect adds to the feeling and emotion of the song.  I have to admit that the song almost makes me uncomfortable, as if I’m waiting anxiously for the song to get going somewhere and it just never does, and I believe that’s really the intention behind the music.  It’s not meant to be fun or comfortable, and it is definitely not.  There are some bands that will take a ballad, sing it, and I’ll feel absolutely nothing.  It’s not that way with Duran Duran.  When they are on top of their game (and on this album, they most certainly are), they never overlood an opportunity to insist that their listeners make the extra effort to feel the music and be a part of the moment.  It’s beautiful and a perfect way to end what I believe will truly feel is one of the best, if not the best album of their career….so far.

Vocals:   I can feel the torture and pain coming from Simon, and it’s impossible to ignore those feelings.  This is another one that I look forward to hearing live and seeing how he conveys himself.  Simon didn’t just bat this one in and call it a day – he took his time with each note and it’s clear he wants you to hear what he’s singing, don’t just play it in the background for atmosphere.
Lyrics:  We want poetry?  We’ve got it on this one.  This song almost is Simon’s personal goodbye to his past mistakes?  Regrets?  Broken promises?   I’m not sure…and quite honestly this is one song that feels far too personal for an explanation.  The discomfort I tend to feel in hearing it could quite easily be from the words.  It couldn’t have been an easy song to write. (yet I read in John’s blog that Simon wrote it one night.  Amazing.  I suppose when you’ve got an emotion that you want to convey, it’s pretty easy to get into a zone with it and get it done.)  This is one of those songs that I will listen to over and over, trying to make sense of what I feel when I hear it.
Production: I was disappointed to read that the original guitar part (acoustic) for this song was long lost in the shuffle of bass, drums and keyboards….I can only imagine what it must have sounded like, but the fact is – Duran Duran is a band that loves the lush layers.  They don’t really *do* simple, do they?  The production on this song certainly accounts for the layers, and the real victory here is that even with all of the layers and tracks – if you listen, you can still hear each “voice” of the band….and each layer contained within.  That’s the real test, and this song passes it with flying colors.
Overall:  This is not an easy song by any means.  I can’t decide if my problem with the song stems from it’s content or from the music or a combination of all of it – but none of it makes it a bad song, regardless of my discontent.  I think it’s very fitting as the final track on the album – it’s a song that forces some active listening – and to leave it all with those final thoughts of love, loss, grief and possibly regret – it’s definitely a thinker!  The song is a bit dark for Duran Duran, but I suspect that for many it will be a call-to-arms and another fan favorite.  
Rating: