In light of my previous idea for a Hump Day Flashback turning into an actual article, I had to rethink my idea for this week’s column. Then inspiration hit via the emptying of the skies. I could probably fill a book with great songs about rain, but New Edition’s 1988 hit “Can You Stand the Rain” will always be at the very least in my Top 5, if not my favorite all-time.
A song doesn’t have to be particularly deep lyrically to be a great song, nor does it have to be fantastically sung (although, in this case, Ralph, Ricky and Johnny do the damn thing). It just has to hit the right emotion at the right time. When this song was initially a hit, I wasn’t really old enough to totally understand the meaning of the lyrics, but I’d been through enough that the idea of having people who are there for you in good times and bad already meant a lot to me. What can I say? I was a melodramatic kid. Twenty-odd years later, the lyrics resonate with me even more. Once you experience a few relationships and realize that most folks’ first impulse is to bail the second things get a little rocky, you appreciate the people that stick around, know what I’m saying?
“Can You Stand the Rain” became the biggest R&B hit from New Edition’s double-platinum “Heart Break” album. Although the album scored five Top 20 hits, “Rain” was the only chart-topper. Although it wasn’t a big pop hit (peaking at #42), it’s become one of the group’s best-known songs (actually, when it comes to their core fans, probably their best-known and most-loved song). It completed the transition for New Edition from a group of teenyboppers to the modern-day Temptations. While pop culture as a whole hasn’t done much for the song, it’s certainly a classic of it’s era, and a passage about it remains one of my favorite parts of writer/fellow blogger Jason Mulgrew’s hilarious “Everything is Wrong with Me” book.
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