Monday, November 21, 2016

A Drop of Rain and Other Updates

[cross-posted in slightly different form from PowerPop]

Okay, I'm gonna get more than usually self-indulgent today, but please bear with me. I think it'll be worth it.

So -- some of you may know that my 90s band -- Gerry Devine and the Hi-Beams, who were essentially the Floor Models Mark II (we liked to describe our stuff as Merseybeat Cowboy music) -- released an album in 1995 on Gadfly Records, a small but interesting indie label out of Vermont. (They had the entire Tonio K. catalogue, which delighted me).

The album's out of print, and the label seems to be defunct -- in fact, we've been trying to get in touch with Mitch Kantor, the guy who ran it, for a while now with no success. Mitch -- if you're out there....

Anyway, it's a really good record, IMHO, but it was abominably mastered -- in fact, back in the day we were all kind of heartsick about what had been done to our magnum opus. So, having a lot of time on my hands recently after finishing the Flo Mos Letter From Liverpool project, I thought to myself -- let's reissue it and do it right this time.

To which end ace drummer Glen "Bob" Allen, original Hi-Beams guitarist J.D. Goldberg and myself spent the summer re-mastering the record from the original tapes and spiffing up some bonus tracks (live and studio). And the whole thing now sounds insanely good; we'll be releasing it both online (Amazon, Spotify, iTunes etc) and in physical CD form in December.

So why am I bringing this up? Because while listening to the final master in the studio the other night, I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard this song on big speakers for the first time in a while.

I've always thought it was an absolute masterpiece, and way better than we actually were, frankly. But in the aftermath of the election it now struck me as sadly relevant in a way it hadn't when we recorded it.

It's called "A Drop of Rain." It was written by Gerry Devine (rhythm guitar and vocals) who came up with it after watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. I'm on bass and keyboards; Glen and J.D. are on everything else.

On the long road back from Gettysburg
The dust burned in their eyes
And by the time they got through Maryland
There were no more tears to cry
Ghosts out on the Interstate
The cursed and the blessed
The dream that died that hot July
Was never laid to rest

A drop of rain falls on the highway
A tear stain on the stone
There's a long parade of headlights
Trying to find their way back home
All the promises were broken
But the memories still remain
As the cars go flashing by
Like drops of rain

A thousand crosses burned at night
Across this holy ground
And we kept on hearing the same lies
Untill we came around
We're all in this together now
The union is preserved
All these years and waiting still
For justice to be served

A drop of rain falls on the river
Floating down to New Orleans
The melting snows of Canada
Come wash this country clean
All the way from Tupelo
We watched that mystery train
Fade off into the night
Through drops of rain

I hear the Sunday church bells
As the morning lights the sky
And all that I can do
Is throw this thing in gear and drive
Trail smoke down the blacktop
Through the endless miles of corn
These wheels were set in motion
Before I was ever born

A drop of rain falls on my windshield
The wind is in my ears
You can smell the storm that's coming
It won't be long until it's here
I wish I had the words to tell you
But there's no way to to explain
About this wind that drives me
Like a drop of rain

I get chills listening to it, and I think it's amazing simply as a poem.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the reissue as we get near to the actual release date.

Which, barring the unforeseen, will be on-line early in December. With actual physical CDs to follow before the New Year, weather permitting.

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