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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where I Come From, Rain is a Good Thing

I’ll readily admit that when I was a kid, I loved summer vacation.  Summer vacation meant that you had two and a half months of doing whatever you wanted to do, whenever you wanted.  When I was growing up, I can remember all of the thousands of things that I could only do during the summer holidays.  Here are just a list of just a few of the things that I did when I was a kid between the months of June and September.

I would head down to the outdoor sidewalk sales downtown and browse all of the booths and merchandise set up in the middle of the street.  I remember being a child thinking how cool it was that we could actually walk on the road and not have to worry about being run over by a car!  Mind you, I very rarely bought anything at these sidewalk sales, but usually the used book store would have used cassette tapes and Archie Digests that I would spend my tooth fairy money and allowance on.

There would also be instances in which a carnival or fair would come to town, and I would practically beg my parents to loan me ten dollars so I could ride on some of the rides (yes, kids, back in the late 1980s, fair rides were really that inexpensive).  Whenever I went to the fair, if I could ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl, The Scrambler, the bumper cars, and the merry-go-round, and still have enough money for a cotton candy or a cherry flavoured Sno-Cone, I considered that successful budgeting!

And, of course, there were all of the summer festivals and concerts, and outdoor events that took place only in the summer.  Whether it was watching our favourite bands and singers performing outdoors, or watching hot-air-balloons launching up into the sky, or enjoying the company of other people over cold drinks at a sidewalk cafe, there never was a shortage of activities to do in the summer.

Well, provided that it didn’t RAIN, that is.

On days in which it rained during the summer, it was never much fun...especially when I was a child.  Rain meant that we had to stay indoors instead of going out.  Rain meant that sidewalk sales had to be cancelled, because the rain would destroy all of the goods available for sale.  Rain meant that I couldn’t go to the fair because my mother believed that I would catch pneumonia if I rode on the Tilt-A-Whirl in the pouring rain.

(A theory that I ended up disproving when I was twelve, by the way.)

I’ll be honest.  Whenever it rained on my summer vacation, I was upset.  It was bad enough that on my birthday it almost always rained, but to have the rain fall on my summer vacation?  That was just too much!  I would have been more than thrilled if it never rained during the summer holidays ever again.

Well, flash forward to the year 2012, and it appears that I am now getting my childhood wish granted.  This past summer (at least where I am currently living in Ontario, Canada), we have had only three days where it has rained.  And on each of these three days, the showers never last any longer than three hours.

What I didn’t think about as a child were the consequences that came from having no rain fall during the summer holidays.  Now that I am 31, and am experiencing the longest drought that I have seen in my lifetime, I can clearly see how my childhood wish was very misguided.

All over my province, farmers and crop growers are losing their shirts the longer the drought lasts.  The crops that they have planted have not been doing well at all, due to the lack of rain.  Even walking down the street in my town and seeing the once green grass now a sickly shade of yellowish-brown, I can see just how devastating this drought has been.  I can’t even imagine how stressed out the farmers are in this area.  I really feel for them.

Of course, this drought is also causing a lot of frustration in the grocery store where I currently do my day job.  As a result of fruit and vegetable fields in this area shriveling up in the relentless heat of the sun, the prices in our produce department have been steadily rising.  If this drought gets any worse, it’d eventually be that buying a couple of apples may end up costing as much as a gallon of gasoline! 

I now see that wishing for a summer without rain was not the smartest idea.  Now I wish that we could have nothing but rain for a complete week in hopes that somehow, the summer growing season can be salvaged, and that we never have to worry about running out of raspberries, peaches, and corn on the cob.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that rain can be wonderful.  And, hey, what a coincidence that our Sunday Jukebox song has the same message.

It isn’t very often that I leaf through the country music section of the record listings to spotlight for the Sunday Jukebox.  The last time I featured a country artist was on September 11, 2011 when I used an Alan Jackson song to discuss the 10th annual remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  In this case though, there really was only one song that seemed to fit the theme of the blog.  Let’s have a listen.

ARTIST:  Luke Bryan
SONG:  Rain is a Good Thing
ALBUM:  Doin' My Thing
DATE RELEASED:  January 25, 2010

Yes, Luke Bryan was right.  Rain is a good thing.  And, I sort of wish that we could get some more rain now.

But I’ve talked about the drought long enough.  Why don’t we change the subject and talk about the artist who sings this particular song?

This is Luke Bryan, but Luke Bryan is merely his stage name.  He was born Thomas Luther Bryan on July 17, 1976 in Leesburg, Georgia.  On or around his fourteenth birthday, he was given the gift of a guitar from his parents, and this prompted Luke to take on jobs playing in local clubs with local bands throughout his teenage years.

Bryan graduated from Lee County High School in 1994, and he had dreams of moving to Nashville, Tennessee immediately after graduating to pursue a career in recording country music.  But those plans were shattered after the death of his brother, Chris.  Chris died the very day that Luke was planning on leaving home.  So, Luke stayed in Georgia, and attended Georgia State University, pledging for the Sigma Chi fraternity, and taking on a job working with his father, despite the fact that everyone encouraged him not to give up on his dream of moving to Nashville.

Eventually, Luke realized that his loved ones only wanted what was best for him.  And what was best for him was moving to Nashville.  So, seven years after his first attempt, Luke Bryan moved to Nashville on September 1, 2001.  Two months later, Luke ended up landing a a songwriter.

As it turned out, this was a great thing for Luke, as his talents in writing songs proved to be the ultimate networking experience in Nashville.  Because of this job, Luke managed to meet and work with some of Nashville’s biggest stars including Travis Tritt and Billy Currington.

It wouldn’t be until 2006 that Luke Bryan would end up being discovered by a representative for Capitol Records while he was performing at a club.  The rep was impressed by Luke’s talent, and signed him to a recording contract on the spot.

Luke Bryan’s song writing skills seemed to help him out a lot when he was working on his debut album, 2007’s “I’ll Stay Me”.  Of the eleven songs that appeared on the album, he wrote or co-wrote ten of them.  Some of the singles that charted on that album were “All My Friends Say”, “We Rode in Trucks”, and “Country Man”.  All three were hits on the country charts, but failed to reach the top.

It seemed as though Luke’s second album, “Doin’ My Thing” was doomed to the same fate.  The album’s first single, “Do I” (which was co-written by the members of Lady Antebellum) was a strong release, but only managed to peak at #2 in the summer of 2009. 

But then “Rain is a Good Thing” was released, and it became Luke’s first #1 hit.

The song’s lyrics are quite simplistic in nature.  Basically, it depicts the story about how rain causes corn crops to grow, and with the harvesting of the corn comes the manufacturing of whiskey, which, according to Luke Bryan makes the gals get a little bit frisky.

Which is always a good thing.

In some ways, the idea behind the song came from a saying that he and co-writer Dallas Davidson used to say whenever both of them were bummed about the rain.  The saying was “Rain makes corn, and corn makes whiskey”, and whenever both of them said the saying, it made them feel better, and more accepting of inclement weather.

Who knew that little saying would end up giving Luke the first of many country music chart-toppers?  That’s a good thing, wouldn’t you say?

Rain is a very good thing.  I just wish that the summer of 2012 had a lot more of it.  But, it’s only the end of July.  There’s still a slim chance that we might just see some raindrops falling from the sky in August.

At least, I certainly hope so, anyway.

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