May 15, 2020

"Candles in the Rain" - 1970, Melanie Safka and the Edwin Hawkins Singers

Today marks the beginning of my sixth year living in a third floor apartment on the corner of Saint Paul and Read in Baltimore's Mount Vernon neighborhood.    Yes, I moved into this place in 2015 just a few weeks after the Baltimore Uprising.

That time aside:   if anyone would have told me five years ago that I would be spending two months under a "shelter-in-place" order, I MIGHT have laughed.   

Five years later, here we are.    Five years later, here I am, and during these five years I have realized how important "home" is.     My realization has    included everything from decorating (finally had concert posters framed) to maintenance (it was only a year ago that the kitchen was totally renovated - an example of "overwhelming necessity"), and now purchasing foam-backed blackout curtains because this third floor living, while wonderful, features tremendous summer sunset light as the windows face the east. 

Yea, it get's hot in here....and it's getting hot in here.

The decision to (FINALLY?!) order foam-backed blackout curtains may seem curious to many of you (you've been living there for HOW LONG?!) - and moreso now as COVID-19 continues to shape the way that we live, gather, and SPEND - but it's been "on the docket" for a while.    Personally, it's strange for me as I'm making this choice while realizing that, for financial reasons, I may have to leave this beautiful space (downsizing) at some point between now and October...but all of that aside.

"Quarantine" means many different things to all of us, and during this time I have- despite reaching a "rock bottom crackup" a few weeks ago - been listening on many levels.

The first level:   a teacher/mentor/friend who is downsizing sent me a box of compact discs.   Oh, the discoveries!    I  have made it the point to choose something unfamiliar every day.

The SECOND level:   going through memories, which include my being a high school student and hearing Melanie Safka's "(Lay Down) Candles in the Rain".    While I was stunned upon first hearing as a high school student in 1986, I am grateful to live now with a glimpse of understanding.

I need not say anymore....just read, listen, and think about where we are today....

Melanie got some assistance on the song from the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who had their own gospel hit with their arrangement of “Oh Happy Day” two years earlier. Melanie had to beg the group to join her on the song, since they were reluctant to perform any song that didn’t make sepcific mention of the Lord. “But he’s in there,” she told them in the studio, and she must have been convincing. “By the time I finished singing,” Safka says, “they were joining me in the chorus.”
It was an unlikely combination of folk introspection and gospel exultation, and it’s refreshing to think of an era in music when such a song could conquer the charts. Melanie attributes some of its success to the time period in which it was released. Not only was there the Woodstock connection, but the song also spoke to those fed up with the Vietnam War. “It gave it a lot of poignance that it might not have had if it happened at another time,” she says.

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