Ghost Tracks: THE RAIN
FEATURE – Ghost Tracks is BACK! Series 2 of our 10-part special returns where we take a fun look back at some of the forgotten and rarely ever mentioned Roxette songs from their incredible 30 year history.
Song: The Rain
Firstly, let’s discuss the word “tragedy” as defined by the dictionary:
1. an event causing great suffering, destruction or distress
2. not releasing “The Rain” as a single.
Every band takes a mistep. They zig when they should’ve zagged. They do this instead of that. Some bands even go as far as putting a tour bus on the cover of an album with passport headshots on it… sorry, but I really can’t forgive them for that one… still causes me nightmares. Here’s one of the great missed opportunities of all time; “The Rain”.
How about a round of applause for all those involved in the creation and recording of this absolute gem! Power chords, power vocals, haunting piano, soaring chorus, key changes, yes folks, the year is 1992 and this is a quintessential Roxette ballad!
OK, let’s get controversial. I think “The Rain” should have followed “How Do You Do!” as the second single instead of “Queen of Rain” (please, send all hate mail to Thomas). This is not an attack on the lovely “Queen of Rain” – and I know Per and everyone in the Rox Community will disagree with me but this song, I feel, had more “hit potential”. Just my opinion… feel free to comment below and argue the point.
Stirring is an adjective that comes to mind when trying to describe this song. That opening piano chord, wow, it’s so stirring. Slightly unsettling, haunting, it feels almost cold – the piano intro feels serious, like the team are trying to make a point with this song. “Fading Like a Flower” kicks off with a lovely piano intro but there’s something warm and inviting about the sound of that opening piano versus the one used in “The Rain” – perhaps someone more musically astute can enlighten me on the more technical terminology that I’m lacking, but this opening feels sharper, less polished and more haunting in a way.
The beauty of this amazing track are of course, the Roxette elements. This song weaves it’s way through a slow haunting build, a dramatic chorus and then around the 2:45 mark, it simmers right down to a lush, ethereal soundscape of whispering synths swirling around one another before Jonas steps in and breaks your ribs with that solo.
Can we talk about the peroxide blonde woman for a second? Her vocals during the opening verse gives no indication of the raw emotion and soaring vocals that awaits the listener during the chorus. It’s such a controlled performance. Such a slow build. At 47 seconds the drums and that guitar kick in “and the season turned into another one” – uh-oh, thought it was going to be a simple, understated song, right? Wrong! This is a slow build. 47 seconds into it, we get the new elements. Layer by layer. Bit by bit, we’re building folks, we are building. But not too quickly now, there’s even a gentle whisper of “…so softly” to keep the balance just right and then – BANG… the chorus! Marie picks it up a notch, not too much just yet, Roxette are building. Don’t you love that relaxing, gently, interwoven synth in the background almost mimicking rain drops, mesmerizing the listener to keep the balance of grunting guitars and Marie’s building vocals just right.
The major change I feel is “disappearing like an aeroplane” that serves as the link from a controlled ballad to balls out, grab you by the throat. Of course by the time the chorus has come around a third time, Marie’s commanding your attention with power and soul. All the elements intensify by this point, the keys, the vocals… the guitar… ahh yes, the guitar. Let’s talk about the bloke on the guitar. Anyone who’s ever read any of my TDR articles may have possibly picked up on my not-so-subtle Jonas Isacsson references and my overwhelming bias towards the great man… hey, it’s Series 2, so I can take some liberties, right? So listen to this song and you’ll understand my bias/obsession. How perfect is that solo? Don’t you love how Clarence and co. build the song up to those traditional Roxette heights and then at 2:45 slowly wind it back down as the aural spotlight turns its attention to Jonas and his big red guitar – and then boom, that unmistakable Jonas solo takes the song to a whole new stratosphere. This song is so delicately layered. There’s Marie’s incredible powerhouse vocal performance. Clarence on the keys and then they break it down for Jonas to show us why he’s the master. All the elements (there’s that word again) so neatly interwoven to create such Roxette magic!
Also. How about that demo? I love listening to demos for curiosity’s sake and picking up on little things, appreciating them as historical artefacts. Rarely, do I listen to demos for pleasure, but this is one of those rare ones that sounds so cool!
Here’s one saving grace, this song was a regular feature on the Crash! Boom! Bang! World Tour. Thank goodness “The Rain” got it’s time in the sun… clever, huh? The live version is incredible and interestingly enough, the band performed it without that recognizable piano intro, instead opting for rain/thunder sound effects and a slow guitar build up leading into Marie’s opening line “I was raised the Northern way…”
Don’t you just love that we get a glimpse of the song’s title in the second line of the opening verse “…I did my crying out in the pouring rain“?
See, for me. I like “Queen of Rain” but I think I prefer the 1993 MTV Unplugged version or any live versions because it doesn’t feel as produced, the Tourism version feels a little too light? Too soft? Combine the “grittier” production of “The Rain” to the melody and structure of “Queen of Rain” and I think you’ve got the perfect balance. But what do I know?
Here’s what Per Gessle had to say about “The Rain” in his book Songs, Sketches and Reflections: “One of my favorite lyrics and songs, written in July 1991 in the middle of the very long ‘Join the Joyride’ World Tour. It was custom made for our brand new big Roxette sound and it eventually showed up on the Tourism album in 1992. We played it a lot live and it’s always been a treat“.
So there we have it, a classic, typical sounding Roxette big ballad. Go dust off Tourism and crank this one up!
“…I found a heart bright like the morning sun…”
Thoughts from The Daily Roxette crew:
Paul: Another classic Roxette song. Nothing much more to add to Stevo‘s comments apart from I agree with everything he has said!
Thomas: Love this song, always have and probably always will! I was raised the Northern way as well. I guess?