Saturday, January 24, 2015

New Featured Unknown/Underrated Song*: "Summer Rain" from Johnny Rivers

When this song was released in 1967, it only reached #14.  Music Directors who play things mostly "by the book" will look at that and figure the song just wasn't a big hit.  But that would be a huge mistake.  "Summer Rain" consistently tests out extremely well year after year in audience surveys.  There's a good reason for that.

One of the innovative things Inside The Rock Era has done in the industry is to introduce the concept of competition and the importance of it in any song ranking, whether it be simply a weekly list of the most popular current songs, or a comprehensive list of the top songs of all-time.  Speaking of which, Inside The Rock Era is hard at work updating our database of over 12,000 songs with the most current airplay and sales statistics.  When we are finished, we will unveil our signature music special, The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, just in time for the big 60th birthday celebration of rock & roll!

But competition must always be considered in any ranking, and that includes movies, television shows, football teams, or what have you.  It can truly be said that a song is only as good as its competition; otherwise, a #1 ranking means absolutely nothing.  There are countless times in the Rock Era in which a #4 or #5 song in one time period is more popular than a #1 song in a weaker time period.

And that is what we have in this example, "Summer Rain".  We mentioned above that it peaked at #14.  And we mentioned that the less insightful of the Music Directors would not be playing the song today merely because of that low peak for the song. 

Well, it so happens that "Summer Rain" faced some of the toughest competition of the Rock Era in November and December of 1967 and January of 1968.  Let's review that competition.

When it was released, "Summer Rain" was out at the same time as the following songs:  "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding, "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry, "Hello Goodbye" by the Beatles, "To Sir With Love" from Lulu, "The Letter" by the Box Tops, "Love Is Blue" by Paul Mauriat, "Never My Love" by the Association, the Monkees with "Daydream Believer", "Incense And Peppermints" from Strawberry Alarm Clark, "Judy In Disguise" by John Fred & His Playboy Band, "How Can I Be Sure" from the Rascals", Aretha Franklin's "Chain Of Fools", "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" by the Cowsills, "Soul Man" from Sam & Dave, and "Spooky" by the Classics IV.

That #14 ranking doesn't look so bad against the above songs, does it?  You can conduct an expensive and time-consuming audience survey to show you that "Summer Rain" is actually one of Johnny Rivers' most popular songs, or you can make Inside The Rock Era as a favorite page of yours, and learn intuitively why "Summer Rain" is still popular, as it was in 1967. 
"Summer Rain"
Johnny Rivers
Written by James Hendrix (not the Jimi Hendrix)

Summer rain taps at my window
West wind soft as a sweet dream
My love warm as the sunshine
Sittin' here by me, she's here by me

She stepped out of the rainbow
Golden hair shinin' like moon glow
Warm lips soft as a soul
Sittin' here by me, she's here by me

All summer long, we spent dancin' in the sand
And the jukebox kept on playin'
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

We sailed into the sunset
Drifted home, caught by a gulf stream
Never gave a thought for tomorrow
Just let tomorrow be, now, let tomorrow be

She wants to live in the Rockies
She says that's where we'll find peace
Settle down, raise up a fam'ly
To call our own, yeah, we'll have a home

All summer long, we spent groovin' in the sand
Everybody kept on playin'
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

The snow drifts by my window
North wind blowin' like thunder
Our love's burnin' like fire
And she's here by me, yeah, she's here with me
Let tomorrow be

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