Sunday, August 02, 2020

Rainy Day

It’s fitting to share a bevy of rainy-day shots since we’ve finally been blessed by a late monsoon season the last the last couple of weeks. Not only are the summer rains a gift to the earth but a much-needed tonic for a flagging spirit. I could wax rhapsodic about these torrents but will let the images tell the tale. I don’t claim that all of these are from recent days, but each captures the thick, sound dampening atmosphere of a hard rain.

The first paragraph and the words “rainy day” led to a distant memory, one that’s almost 61 years in the making. When I began writing the post and I had no inkling that I’d be reflecting on the lyrics of the song Rainy Day that I wrote in 1959. It was written across from the socked in beach in Santa Barbara during Christmas while on vacation from college. This was a classic case of the story leading me where it wanted me to go. My sophomoric ballad was a misty miss my girlfriend ode to Toby Hager who had captured my 18-year-old heart in the first semester of my freshman year at the University of Arizona. Toby, it should be stressed, was out of my league in every conceivable way so my pining was more about the idea of Toby Hager than for her flesh and blonde self. Though there was some of that, too. Coming out of high school I was absolutely retarded when it came to women. To use a sports analogy, I should have been redshirted so my body and mind could catch up with my chronological age. I was a boy on a man’s errand. Awestruck, gob smacked and head over heels for an unattainable creature from another planet.
I wrote this, my newly purchased Martin 000-18 guitar in my hands.

Rainy day, Cold outside
Rainy day, it’s almost snowing
Rainy day. It always rains when your lover has gone away

It’s only been half a year
And I still have to shed a tear
‘cause when you’re lost and all alone
It’s a rainy, rainy day

There’s more but you get the idea. It may not have been good, but it was heartfelt.
One time Toby came to a gig my singing partner John Ellsworth and I were doing at a small theatre on North 6th Avenue. After the performance we strolled back to campus hand in hand. I spent the whole time trying to impress her with my glib repartee. Finally, she put her index finger to my lips and told me. “You don’t need to talk to be with somebody.” She was telling me not to try so hard.
Another time we were at a house party. We were slow dancing to Dream by the Everly Brothers. I’m sure I sang it in her ear since John and I covered all the Everly’s songs. Boy, we could harmonize. As we held each other Toby looked me in the eyes and kissed me lightly. She whispered, “Why dance, Steve?” I did not consider my options.
Toby transferred to UC Berkeley for the spring semester. We spoke once, threatened to get together. And didn’t.
Meanwhile John, who has since become a best-selling novelist, wrote real lyrics.  This is Once Upon a Time.

One upon a time, as the tale begins
Flowers bloomed and trees sang, touched by the wind
Time stood still, not passing by
We wandered beneath an azure sky
In our timeless paradise
Once upon a time

Faster ticks the clock
Our love begins to fade
Surely as the twilight’s end comes to a leafy glade

If I could forget her,
If the book would close
Each day would bring a new love
With the spark of you.

Eternity, infinity
Where time is never known
Slips away at the break of day
And I am left alone
With emptiness and pages bare

Once upon a time

The guy was 18 going on 30 when he wrote those lyrics. I was 18 going on 14. Forgive me, John, if I muffed a word or two. I'm doing this from memory.
Blogger had changed its posting mechanism and it not publishing the images fully or in the correct aspect ratio. It's a good thing this post is about the story and the photographs are just to support the text. I'll try to get it sorted about. But not tonight.


John Ellsworth said...

Love you, little brother.

Steve Immel said...

"Twin sons from different mothers." Mel Brooks I think. And the same to you. Glad you didn't mind that I shared Once Upon a Time.

Blacks Crossing said...

Jealous as I am of your rain, the first photograph had a lovely, ethereal quality to it, perfectly matching "your song", Steve, or John's song, or anyone's song about lost love and longing. Great insight and a nice blog for the opening of a new month. Hope that PT is going swimmingly!