As we continue our premature but sincere tribute to spring and springy weather, here’s a cute little tune from Lovin’ Spoonful, specialists in cute little tunes:
“Rain on the Roof,” from 1966, is quite Kinks-like in its melody and arrangement, not that there’s much wrong with that. The Spoonful always liked to try different styles among the “jug band” silliness, and did some of them well, but they were so relentlessly slick that they often came across as dilettantes. “Summer in the City” for instance, was about the least persuasive tough-guy record ever. (Up until Elton John recorded “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” anyway.)
Obviously, I’m not a big Spoonful fan, but “Rain on the Roof,” at two minutes and a quarter, is almost as charming as it’s trying to be. Just a romantic little song about a cute couple waiting out a storm in a barn or hayloft. They’re chatting away companionably:
You and me were gabbing away
Dreamy conversation sittin’ in the hay
Honey, how long was I laughin’ in the rain with you
‘Cause I didn’t feel a drop till the thunder brought us to
And he, at least, is falling (or has fallen) in love.
You and me underneath the roof of tin
Pretty comfy feeling how the rain ain’t leakin’ in
We can sit dry just as long as it can pour
‘Cause the way it makes you look makes me hope it rains some more
The arrangement on this is twinkly and determined to be pretty, with a nice classical guitar in the opening and harps that slip past between the verses to make the feel a little rainier, but also unnecessary strangled tuba fanfares (the player even makes an unedited error at 1:46 on the clip). The rattly 12-string and jingly tambourine add to the Kinks-ness of it all, and serve make the whole thing a little less twee.John Sebastian’s phrasing, particularly on the last lines of the verses, is very Davies-esque, but I don’t care for his vocal here. It is an intentionally naive or “natural” approach to fit the simple-boy character of the song, I do get that, but Sebastian’s pitch is debatable throughout and he sounds more stretched than earnest when it gets a little high. I really don’t think Sebastian was much of a singer, and he doesn’t seem to have been quite good enough to do what he seems to have been aiming at. Ray would’ve gotten around this better.
But that’s overthinking a very pleasant little record, sunny (despite the rain theme) and sweet, and decidedly spring-y.