Friday, July 25, 2008

Monsoon music

We're smack in the middle of the desert's most thrilling and theatrical time of year - the monsoon. The daily threat of startlingly intense thunderstorms is both friendly and fierce. The rain will come, or it won't, any afternoon or evening. And if it comes, it comes quickly and with such a force and authority it seems as if each individual thunderstorm is trying to match the surrounding mountains for sheer grandeur.

When I was in school, I'd walk into an afternoon class with the August sun bearing down and energizing thermometers well past 100 degrees. I'd walk back out 50 minutes later to a gray dampness everywhere, temperature hovering somewhere near 72, and often never actually see a drop of rain.

I've always associated some songs with rain, or with the desert's aura following a rain. Most are quite lyrically obvious, but there's just something special about hearing somebody singing about rain while it's actually raining and I've always liked to put those matches on the stereo. Some songs below, but first, a poem:

Desert Water
By Richard Shelton
once a year
when infallible toads
begin to sing
all the spiders who left me
return and I make room for them
I am too proud
to mention their long absence
then the owls
send a message in code
from saguaro to saguaro
and the toads stop singing
a sea of warm air
rolls over quickly and relaxes
we wait for the promised rain
for the second coming
of water
each time it arrives
like the flood and I know
I have not wasted my life
spiders still come
to my house for shelter

James - Sometimes (live 1993-12-09 - Brixton Academy)
Neko Case - Buckets of Rain (live, Bob Dylan cover)
Rusted Root - Cruel Son (live 2007-06-16, Rochester)
Uncle Tupelo - A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall (live, Bob Dylan cover)
Counting Crows - Rain King (live, 'Thunder Road' interlude)
Roger Clyne - Nada (acoustic)

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