Misunderstanding the Rhythm of the Rain

I can’t believe that I’ve been misunderstanding that song all these years!

In 1963, the aptly-named Cascades released their only hit single, “Rhythm of the Rain.” It rose to number three on the Billboard charts and has been a staple of Sixties stations and compilation recordings ever since. As a writer, I respect copyright laws, so I will not quote extensively from the song.

The premise, though, is that a man is mourning the loss of a friend. The rain is both expressing and interrupting his grief. He calls himself a fool, which—until today—led me to believe that he had caused the end of a relationship. I thought that he blamed himself for her departure.

Over the past weekend and during the middle of this week, that song has been running through my head. After multiple repetitions in my mind, the song’s true message suddenly burst upon me. I googled the lyrics to make sure that I was right, and I am indeed right.

“The only girl I care about has gone away, looking for a brand new start.” It’s happened to me; it happens to a lot of people. But nowhere in the song does he claim that she left because of something he said or did. She just left. Now he’s sad. He misses her badly. He wishes that she would return.

“But little does she know that when she went away, along with her she took my heart.” If she doesn’t know how he feels about her, they must not have had much of a relationship. Perhaps he was too shy to try to get closer to her. Perhaps other circumstances kept them from being boyfriend and girlfriend. For whatever reason, she left for her new start—maybe a new job, maybe life in a new city. Possibly she got married. Now he sits alone and mourns her departure, wishes she was back, and knows that he cannot build a relationship with someone else because he’s still stuck on her.

This is why he calls himself a fool: not because he caused a relationship to end, but because he’s heartbroken over someone he never dated, someone who doesn’t even know how much he cares about her. He calls himself a fool because he allowed his heart to stay with this woman who has left. The rain is not going to tell her how he feels, no matter how he pleads with it. If he never had the nerve to say how much he cared, it’s too late to say it now. And he is miserable without her, even though he was never really with her.

“Oh, listen to the falling rain—pitter-patter, pitter-patter.” One hopes that he soon gets out from under this cloud and learns that life goes on. It would be sad if he spent years missing the one who got away when they were never even together. J.

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12 thoughts on “Misunderstanding the Rhythm of the Rain

  1. The Cascades were an American vocal group best known for the single “Rhythm of the Rain”, recorded in 1962, NOT ’63 – and NOT their only hit – merely their best known. They had three other ‘Top-100 Billboard Hits’. Legendary Glen Campbell was their guitarist. In ’66 Gary Lewis & The Playboys recorded it; in 1990 the late Dan Fogelberg, revived it. I remember their versions, but NOT the original, possibly dating me somewhat?
    The Cascades lead singer John Gummoe once explained that he wrote ‘Rhythm of the Rain’ over a period of time, the lyrics began while he was serving in the U.S. Navy. He was standing a mid watch on the bridge while underway to Japan.They were sailing up in the north pacific and it was raining heavily and the seas were tossing. It was like the rain was talking. It was later on that he sat down at a piano and was fooling around with the black keys that produced the now familiar melody. Hundreds of artists have since recorded this song, a huge worldwide hit. BMI named “Rhythm of the Rain” the 9th most performed song of the 20th century.
    My own heart was ‘torn’ as I read your Article, a bitter/sweet memory of bygone love. It occurred nearly 50 years ago and I’ve been happily married for 41 years since, but it still pricks my heart. She left our seven year relationship, my first marriage, quite unexpectedly and abruptly. She awoke one morning, said she needed a vacation, took my car and literally disappeared. I filed a ‘missing person’ report with the police. After eight months, I inadvertently drove by her mother’s house located on a major thoroughfare, and noticed my car in her driveway. As I walked up the steps to her front door, I could see through the living room picture window my ex get up and run for the rear door. I caught her coming out the back gate – immediately she screamed, “I want a divorce”. I never saw her again. No explanation, no attempt for reconciliation, not even at the court hearing – NOTHING. To this day, I have NO clue as to what caused her flight, nor our separation. Sadly, the pitter/patter of the rain always reminds me ‘what a fool I’ve been’ – but since she never came back to me, was she EVER really mine? So, thanks for the memories…

    Liked by 2 people

    • TF THOMPSON – It seems we have more in common than merely last names. I too served in prison ministry in the late 1970’s – ’80’s. My brother-in-law was a CA State Chaplin. Together we held camp meetings , contemporary christian music concerts, and regular weekly Bible study on prison grounds. Of course, the above personal story regarding my 1st marriage was BEFORE I encountered Christ. I read your post “You call Yourself a Christian” and perhaps it is just the beginning of a fruitful mutual acquaintance.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry to bring back sad memories.
      The song in question was recorded in 1962 but released in January 1963. My Billboard book has only Top Forty listings, so I did not know about their songs that reached the Top Hundred. J.

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  2. “As I writer, I respect copyright laws, ….”

    I would presume that you, as a writer, also understand that typographic errors occur, so you will change this to “As a writer” or, possibly, “As I write”. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, I remember Rod Stewart. I think things come down to two separate things we regret. The first might be all of the things that we didn’ t say, and the second are all the dumb things that we did say. In both cases, we felt like we played the fool for both were in fact, foolish. Sometime, I think it just isn’t in the cards when it comes to a particular romance.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. This was particularly poignant this evening. Thank you for sharing it.
    I love looking at people’s interpretations of lyrics on songmeanings.com. For example, I had Rod Stewart’s “You’re in My Heart” stuck in my head last night because I heard it in a store. I won’t tell you what it said because I don’t want to ruin it for you if you thought it was solely about a woman…

    Liked by 2 people

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