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Over the past several days, I’ve been taking a close look at my poem “Rain” as performed by Poem de Terre.  Looking at and listening to this piece in particular got me thinking about evolution, growth, and change in Art as a living thing. “Rain” took about thirty years to mature, half again as long as a human child.

In 1965, when I was a young poet in Calgary, Alberta, I wrote a poem titled “Rain” which I thought worked quite well. I still do. A few years later, perhaps 1973 or so, while comparing “Rain” and another poem I’d written more recently, I realized there was a certain empathy between them and blended the two poems. Some years after that, I wrote yet another poem which also seemed a perfect fit and I blended it in. “Rain” worked better than it ever had before. Over the years, I added in bits and pieces of unfinished poems and fragments. They all became part of the whole.

In perhaps 1995 or 1996, Poem de Terre guitarist and singer Alex Young set “Rain” to music and the group began to perform it live. The words and music combined went over well with audiences, but I felt something was missing. Alex and I discussed this and wrote a four line sung chorus to be repeated several times throughout the piece. This chorus turned something already very effective into an excellent work of art, and one that appealed even more to our live audiences.

Through the years after we added the sung chorus, “Rain” was performed by Poem de Terre in a wide variety of live settings and appeared on our albums “Assume Nothing” (1999), “Live at Newlands Pavilion” (2001), and “War & Love” (2006), growing and evolving as our instruments and vocalists changed and we made variations in the arrangement.  This poem “Rain” has never ceased to be a living, growing thing.

With the help and collaboration of our extensive family of artists – Alex Young and everyone else who was ever part of Poem de Terre – my child born in 1965 had grown up.  So it is with much that artists create.

(note: I had previously posted a shorter version of this on Facebook.)

To listen to the 1999 (Assume Nothing), 2001 (Live at Newlands Pavilion), and 2006 (War & Love) album recordings of “Rain” by Poem de Terre, go here: http://1drv.ms/1bw9pZj.

                     Rain
words by Bob MacKenzie
music by Alex Young

Walking out in the rain one day,
I met a friend of mine
And we walked our road together a way
And said we both felt fine.

Well the time came that we must part,
My dear dear friend and I –
As gifts, I gave friendship and she her heart
Baked in an old style pie.

Who are you dreaming of
Crying in the Rain?
Who are you dreaming of
Again and again and again?

Who are you dreaming of…?
Is it a small child far away
Crying for her mother?
Is it an old woman of another day
Crying for your love?

(It screams with all the latent fury
of the hatred that lies
in love.)

Carelessly I ate the humble heart pie –
Digested, divested
Part of a friend; part of a lie;
Part love proved and tested.

Who are you dreaming of
Crying in the Rain?
Who are you dreaming of
Again and again and again?

Who are you dreaming of…?
Are you dreaming a brand new life,
The kind you wish you had?
And how real is your dream, or life
Crying out for love?

(It screams with all the latent fury
of the hatred that lies
in love.)

Walking out in the rain one day,
I met a friend of mine
And we walked along together a way
And said we both felt fine.

The problem is my thoughts are all locked up inside
Peering from a private little cage where they hide…

(sanity is a strange thing.
you lose it so easily
when you’re tired
when you’re drunk
when you’re angry
when you’ve lost
a friend
an enemy
a lover
hope.)

A mind is a large empty room
In which two persons meet.

Who are you dreaming of
Crying in the Rain?
Who are you dreaming of
Again and again and again?

Who are you dreaming of…?
Is it a small child far away?
Is it an old woman of another day?
Are you dreaming a brand new life,
And how real is your dream, or life
When there is no love?

(It screams with all the latent fury
of the hatred that lies
in love.)

Walking out in the rain one day,
My dear dear friend and I –
Part of a friend and part a lie
That said we both felt fine.

Who are you dreaming of
Crying in the Rain?
Who are you dreaming of
Again and again and again?

Who are you dreaming of…
Crying for her mother,
Crying for your love,
The kind you wish you had;
Crying out for love?

(Part a friend and part of me,
it screams with all the latent fury
of hatred that lies.)

Ooo Ooo Ooo

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