The Day That the Rain Came Down

Even now, days later, people seem compelled to ask. “Well….?”

In its full form, the question is, “Well, did you get any rain?” When scattered showers roamed the area recently, excitement was high. Unfortunately, “scattered” was the operative word. A quarter mile to the west, there was no rain, not even a sprinkle. Across the lake, one friend took a dousing for a full half-hour while the marina where I’ve been working remained dry. The bank teller, the nurses’ aide and the sales clerk didn’t get a drop, while the fellow at the next gas pump, the diver from the boatyard and the lady up the street at least had a chance to turn on their windshield wipers.

In short, we enjoyed a reminder of rain rather than real rain, though I happened to be at home when the reminder fell and enjoyed it thoroughly. It rained just long enough for me to drag out my hose and wash down the balcony without creating a mess for the people below, and it rained hard enough to leave some pretty substantial puddles lying about. A half-hour later residual heat and the sun nearly had absorbed them although, to my amusement, while the puddles remained the happiest people in the neighborhood weren’t people at all.

The mallards hustled out first, staring up into the sky, catching raindrops with their beaks and flapping their wings as though applauding the clouds. Glass minnows rippled like raindrops across the surface of the water and then, in a flash of gray and black, the biggest surprise of the day came running across the lawn.

A raccoon who’d apparently been snoozing, or hiding, or doing whatever it is that raccoons like to do during the day was making a mad dash toward the puddles. It skidded along the bricks of the walkway, threw itself into the water collected there and rolled over three or four times. Then, taking to its feet and shaking off its fur, it began to drink. And drink. And drink some more. It stood there slurping up water for a full five minutes until, with another shake and a quick look around the neighborhood it made a mad, galloomphing dash back across the lawn, no doubt headed toward the security of its own raccoon-sized condo.


Watching the world frolic in her brief respite from the searing heat, I couldn’t help remembering a favorite song from my grade school years. Because we sang it in our music class, it took years for me to realize it wasn’t a  song written for grade-schoolers but a recording popularized by Jane Morgan. With a singable melody and intelligible lyrics, it’s really quite 1950s-ish, but I don’t know another song that captures the delight of rain and the refreshment of life with such panache.

When I made a passing reference to the song in the comments section of a recent post, one of my European readers, the lovely Isa from Switzerland, pointed out Morgan actually was covering a song written by Frenchman Gilbert Bécaud. Known in France by the title Le Jour où la Pluie Viendra, it was given English lyrics by Carl Sigman in 1958.

Bécaud, one of a group of singers rooted in the French chanson school of plaintive melody, toured for a time as accompanist for Jaques Pills and his wife, Edith Piaf. It was Piaf who encouraged Bécaud to sing as well as write, and as time passed his marvelous performances earned him both the nickname, “Mr. 100,000 Volts” and favorable comparisons to Sinatra.

Though I’d never heard the name Bécaud until Isa piqued my curiosity, I grew up with his songs. Let It Be Me was one of my favorite Everly Brothers’ offerings, while the equally familiar What Now, My Love? seems to have been in everyone’s repertoire. Elvis, Sinatra, Sonny and Cher, Nana Mouskouri and even Engelbert Humperdinck gave it a whirl – and the song survived them all.

Wandering through Bécaud’s repertoire, it becomes obvious that The Day That the Rain Came Down is a bit distinctive in French as well as in English – more upbeat and cheerful, less plaintive, a wonderful reminder of the joys of rain. It’s a useful reminder. Eventually, every drought loosens its grip, but until this one does, Bécaud and Sigman have given us the perfect song to fill birdbaths by – and raccoon saucers, too, if we’re feeling especially kind.

Le Jour où la Pluie viendra

Le jour où la pluie viendra
Nous serons, toi et moi
Les plus riches du monde
Les plus riches du monde
Les arbres, pleurant de joie
Offriront dans leurs bras
Les plus beaux fruits du monde
Les plus beaux fruits du monde
Ce jour-là
La triste, triste terre rouge
Qui craque, craque à l’ infini
Les branches nues que rien ne bouge
Se gorgeront de pluie, de pluie
Et le blé roulera par vagues
Au fond de greniers endormis
Et je t’ enroulerai de bagues
Et de colliers jolis, jolis
Le jour où la pluie viendra
Nous serons, toi et moi
Les fiancés du monde
Les plus riches du monde
Les arbres, pleurant de joie
Offriront dans leurs bras
Les plus beaux fruits du monde
Les plus beaux fruits du monde
Ce jour-là


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Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm  Comments (26)  
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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love, Love, Love this post. From the folks about town with their rain reports, to a raccoon frolicking in a mud puddle, to the perfect drought busting song. The French version is perfect. What a lovely beginning to the day.

    • Teresa Evangeline,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post – I nearly was done with it when I saw Jack’s video of the young elk splashing about and laughed in recognition. I’m accustomed to watching the pelicans, seagulls and hawks playing in their element, but it’s a real treat to see these other creatures rejoicing in the world, too.

      Sometimes I think because their dependence on nature’s gifts is more complete, or at least more immediate, their joy in her bounty may be more intense. In the case of the raccoon, it surely seemed so!

      Linda

  2. At the risk of mentioning the obvious, I think this, too, captures the delight of rain and the refreshment of life. What it may lack in Gallic panache it more than makes up for in good ol’ American joie de vivre.

    (Though anyone who’s seen Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange has to deal with some darker memories.)

    • Al,

      One person’s obvious may be another person’s obscure – surely enough reason to bring Mr. Kelly to the party!

      A brief run through the Wiki makes me happy I never saw “A Clockwork Orange”. I’ll stick with this wonderful clip, and the image of Kelly “lamp-post walking” that certainly is the very essence of joie de vivre.

      Speaking of which – I mentioned a video of a young elk “dancing” to Teresa Evangeline, above. I suspect you’d get a kick out of it (so to speak).

      Linda

  3. “The reminder of rain” – I do love that phrase. The reminder is in the sound, the smell and the sight of the long wished for rain. I would have so enjoyed watching that racoon! What obvious delight!

    • Snoring Dog Studio,

      Funny how phrases will just come to us – “reminder of rain” seemed perfect. The whole experience was rather like having the old rain god come up from behind, tap me on the shoulder and say, “Pssst! Remember this? Someday I’ll bring the real thing!”

      I have a medium-sized stash of raccoon memories and stories – this one has been added, for sure!

      Linda

  4. That was so cute about the raccoon! I usually feel about the way he did when it rains. After all, rain is what makes all of this possible.

    • montucky,

      When I was a kid, my grandpa taught me this little verse:

      First the rain and then the sun
      help the trees and flowers come….

      I love the rain, too. These days, I’m thinking about a rainy day the way some people think about a new sports car or a trip to Europe – a pure luxury that seems just out of reach!

      Good to have the raccoon to remind us to rejoice in what we do have!

      Linda

  5. This post made me think of a poem that was written by one of my high school classmates. The theme of it was that if there were no people on earth, “rain would just be rain,” but that rain becomes many things because of how it affects people and how people experience it and interpret it. I thought at the time that the poem was unusally perceptive and, in fact, it has stuck in my mind for about 52 years. I mentioned it to the author at our class reunion last fall. She didn’t remember writing it.

    • Your comment made me think of these lines from a David Halley song:

      Rain don’t fall for the flowers if it’s falling
      Rain just falls

      • Al,

        I didn’t know David Halley at all – many thanks for bringing him by. I do see by the Wiki he’s a Lubbock native and a running buddy of The Flatlanders. That’s quite a recommendation in itself.

        Linda

    • Charles,

      Funny, the things we forget. I had no memory of having been my high school “class poet” until I began blogging. Even then, I remembered only the title of the poem that went into our graduation program. I had to call the high school and get someone working in the office to email me a copy of the poem since I’d tossed most of my memorabilia.

      Your comment’s as interesting as the story. If you don’t mind a paraphrase, it seems equally clear that if there were no readers, words would just be words. Words, too, become many things because of how they affect people, how people experience and interpret them.

      I suppose that experience and interpretation’s what enriches the language in turn. Add in some experience and observation and you no longer have just “rain”. There’s drizzle, mist, downpours, toad stompers, showers, sprinkles…

      We’ll take any of them down here!

      Linda

  6. What a great start to my morning this post was.

    :)

    • Jo,

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! And thanks so much for making your presence known with a comment – you’re always welcome to stop by.

      Linda

  7. My favourite rain song is Simon & Garfunkel’s Kathy’s Song. That’s what I like to think of rain, not like what we have, causing flooding or teasing us with “just the reminder”. I like the S & G lyrics, the kind of rain that’s “like a memory it falls… soft and warm continuing…”

    Since you mentioned Edith Piaf, that makes me think of a “spin-off” interest. For a wonderful cinematic rendition of Piaf see the film “La môme”, aka “La Vie en Rose” in some places including the US and Canada. The charming and talented Marion Coutillard (also in “Midnight in Paris”) portrays Edith Piaf, garnering an Oscar for her performance. In case you’re interested, here’s the trailer.

    • Arti,

      What a lovely S&G song. I’ve not heard it for years, partly because I never had that particular album. When I hear that description of rain I remember Liberia’s rainy season and the sound of rain as it moved across the forest. Sometimes I could hear it for five minutes before it arrived, first faint and then torrential, steady, warm and implacable.

      In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m smiling at the irony here – after my comment on your blog re: the importance of “a Parisian context”, I show up with Piaf in tow! It is a little funny. ;-)

      I was delighted by the trailer, and especially by the little snippet of Milord. When I was taking French in college, one of our assignments was to learn a song, and that was mine. It never fails to make me smile, and smiles are in short supply around here. Mom’s been in and out of hospital and the nursing home for three weeks, and is in ICU just now. She didn’t recognize me yesterday, which was a bit of a shock – so having “Milord” playing in my mind is a good thing!

      I’m collecting films to pass hospital time by – I’ve just added your suggestion to the list! Oh – and “Girl with a Pearl Earring”! And here’s a little gift for you – Piaf, Henri Cartier-Bresson and “Sous le Ciel de Paris”, all in one lovely package.

      Linda

  8. Quel cadeau! What a gift your beautiful post is, dear Linda! Merci, thank you. The excitement rain brought and the adventures in the animal world! Such lovely pictures too.

    What a pleasure to hear this unforgettable song by Jane Morgan and Gilbert Bécaud wearing his famous polka-dotted tie (in memory of his mother who accompanied him for one of his first shows in a cabaret; she tore the bottom of her dress to make a kind of tie; otherwise her Gilbert would not have been allowed to play piano and sing in this particular place.)

    Thanks also for the delightful vidéo of Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau’s pictures with the E. Piaf’s voice. You really gave us a wonderful present… and to me a double present, since June 13 was my birthday ;) It is only today that I could read your words, The “Rain’s song” will stay in my head all day long.

    With my best wishes for your mother.

    • Isa,

      Such a marvelous story about the polka-dotted tie! These are the little details that truly make a person come alive – in this case, both Bécaud and his mother. I’ve read more about him, and am fascinated by his career, but I love his mother’s impulsive creativity. She was giving him a “thread of life”, too!

      I’m rather astonished that I should have posted this on the very day of your birthday celebration – astonished, and delighted. I enjoy your blog so much, and it’s a pleasure to think that I’ve given you a gift.

      I hope you’re still singing – and thank you for your kind wishes for my own mother. In these situations I try always remember the words of Walker Percy:
      ““To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle”.

      Linda

  9. My dear, so very glad you got your rain at long last! And thanks for sharing some French music for me! Always a treat! C’est bon!

    • jeanie,

      Well, the flowers, trees and grass aren’t very happy yet, but that little raccoon certainly had a good time!

      I’m anxious to come by and see your post(s?) about the Chicago trip. What wonderful fun it must have been!

      Linda

  10. What a delight this was! Thanks for the videos and the links. Let It Be Me takes me back.

    I can just see that raccoon rolling around in the water and shaking it off. I’m happy the little fella got a drink. You know how thirsty he must have been.

    I’m so glad that a little rain fell in your area, but I know it was only a tease. You need much more. Last summer was crazy dry here. I can hear thunder in the distance now, but sometimes it just rumbles and never produces anything. We never know what to expect.

    • Bella,

      Last I checked, we’re about 17 inches below normal. I think I read it’s been three months since a half-inch rain. Every day I have more birds at the water bowls – tough stuff.

      On the other hand, I learned about ten years ago the corollary to “do what you can, and not what you can’t” is “It either will rain or it won’t”. All the wishing and hoping in the world isn’t going to move that blocking high. If I could move it, I’d market myself as a weather maker, and get rich. ;-)

      For the time being, there’s always this!

      Linda

  11. How fun to watch the raccoon enjoying the gift of rains withheld. We do seem to enjoy them more when they are further between downpours or sprinklings.

    Looks like your post has got a lot of people thinking of their favorite rain songs. Mine is the song in the movie Bambi, where he and his mother find a safe haven under the brush. They watch and listen as Disney builds the sound of a small sprinkling into a huge thunderstorm full of menace and thunder right back to the soft little patters of raindrops and birds coming back into full song. Love that part of one of my favorite movies.
    Here is another DeMent with John Prine song that is Me and My Honey’s favorite tune, and whoever put this little you-tube together had a real sense of humor.
    peace n abundance,
    CheyAnne

    (and thanks for the visits to my blog. I always love your comments)

    • CheyAnne,

      I bumped into that DeMent song a couple of nights ago – but not this video! It’s so funny – you just can’t help but laugh at some of the couples.

      Clearly, we’re fascinated by rain. There are so many rain songs – some familiar and some not – and it plays such an important role in so many movies. “They” say that we may finally get some this week – we’ll see. If it comes here, I’ll be sure and send it your way. And none of this dry lightning business. You need the real thing, too!

      Linda

    • Claudia,

      Beautiful scenery, beautiful water-music, and a great pipe. But if I were that person, I’d be losing the umbrella and the shoes right NOW!

      Thanks!

      Linda


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