Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Steve and I were awakened in the middle of the night again last night by the sounds of loud thunder and pounding rain.  As I lay in bed listening to the rain's continuous rhythm,  an old ditty, one I hadn't thought of in years, was running through my head.  "It's Rainin'," was one of the first songs I'd ever written, 17 years ago, during an especially low point in my life.  

In August of 1994, I was living in Vancouver for the summer with my then husband, pursuing acting work.  The t.v. and film industry was booming in Vancouver, and my ex was getting quite a few jobs, because he had dual citizenship.  Although I auditioned plenty, I couldn't get arrested.  I wasn't a citizen, and I was a female in my late 30's--three strikes against me as far as acting roles were concerned.

I combed the classifieds daily, looking for something, anything, to fill my time.  One morning, I saw an ad for a lead singer in a country band, and I figured, what the hell!  I'd never sung country songs in my life,  I didn't even listen to country music, but I figured I could bluff my way into the job, since I had fronted pop bands (albeit, very few) in Los Angeles. 

On a Sunday, I drove down to meet with the band leader in a small run-down house about 30 miles south of Vancouver.  He seemed to be in his mid 40's, with not much to show for it.  After our introductions, he asked me to sing a couple of songs.  I had some karaoke tracks of pop songs which I sang to, and he apparently thought I was qualified enough because he sent me home with about 25 country songs to learn for a gig the following Wednesday.

Over the next three days I spent all of my time memorizing the lyrics and the tunes.  I showed up eager and ready for the gig at a VFW hall and had a blast.  It was a three person band:  The band leader who played guitar, the bass player, a drum machine, and me.  The rest of the summer we did weekend gigs playing at VFW halls, seedy bars, and nursing homes.  I got  $50 a night.  

One late night, while on a break, I ran across a magazine article written by Pam Tillis about songwriting, and how to write from title.  On the drive home, I thought up a title and came up with my first pathetic attempt at a country song, called "Ten Times A Day."  (A catchy little title, I thought!)

Singing in the band, and writing my songs (while my husband criticized), became my lifeline that summer.  My marriage was crumbling.  I cried often over my failing acting career, and contemplated suicide more than once.  As I wrote bad songs, my soul was soothed.  One dreary and rainy morning I wrote, "It's Rainin'."  The first line of the chorus began, "Rain, Rain, Go was catchy and uptempo...and although I can remember my melody clearly right now, the lyrics are tucked away, forgotten, in a drawer somewhere. 

That Vancouver summer was a huge turning point in my life.  Of course, I didn't see it at the time.  When we returned to L.A., my husband asked for a divorce,  I signed up for songwriting classes, and a new chapter began.

Today, on this rainy day, I'm wondering if this lengthy broken leg recovery period is another turning point.  

Time will tell.


I would love to hear your comments, thanks!