“Your look was so haunting, an unexpected pain
I am so sorry for the unexpected rain
The sadness that you kissed
The fresh scars on your wrist
I can’t make it go away…
Goodnight ladies, goodnight; I’m going to leave you now…”
An Unexpected Rain – Melissa Etheridge
When I was little, around 9 or so, I used to drive around with my dad in his tow truck, listening to music and killing time between calls on the radio. We’d buy scratch and win lottery tickets and listen to music loudly.
I was blessed to grow up in a household where music was omnipresent. There was no silence. My parents combined listened to so many different genres of music that I grew up liking almost everything. But despite that variety in the home in which I grew to be a music addict, there were two moments in my life that surprised even me:
1) When I realized that the ‘silly song’ my parents used to sing to me like a nursery rhyme as a child was the chorus of Babooshka by Kate Bush. My dad told me to shut up when I called him on being a fan.
2) Thinking back on how my dad could switch from listening to Black Sabbath to Melissa Etheridge in the same day and then espouse her talents in long speeches.
One of his favourite songs was Similar Features. It’s one of mine as well. Funnily, despite this upbringing of mine, I only began listening to Kate Bush in 2005 and only just now have bothered to explore Melissa’s music. I have been missing out. In a moment where life has me reflecting on my path and my choices, on life and death, I’ve stumbled into Melissa’s realm on the heels of the release of her 2007 album The Awakening, an album I am going to recommend without hesitation and with urgency.
The album’s concept is a journey across Melissa’s life as she struggled with cancer, a sort of reflection and a spiritual awakening that came with that reflection in the face of possible death. There are several songs about religion and love, as well as a general spiritual understanding of ourselves as beings. If that sounds campy, it doesn’t come off that way in the context of the album and its lyrics. It’s a very cohesive album, one that flows and feels best digested as a whole.
Two of the songs struck me from moment one: Kingdom of Heaven and An Unexpected Rain. The latter is resonating in ways that stretch beyond the actual story of the song for me, striking me in this reminder of how my grandfather, faced with terminal cancer, is at peace with that but struggling with being the harbinger of bad news, the cause of sorrow and tears. His pain lies not in the imminent end of his life, but in the pained faces of those who love him, and his worry for how they will cope. Hence the lyrics above, quoted; they capture that terrible feeling of guilt for being the reason for someone’s anguish.
Sample away: An Unexpected Rain – Melissa Etheridge