June 18th, 2012

The Clouds: “We Make the Rain”

By Bart J Helms

YouTuber drbrink has uploaded video of us performing “The Clouds” (along with many more songs) at Mojo’s in Columbia, Missouri. We’ve been playing “The Clouds” on stage since Big John Fest last December, but it still feels new to me because we’re constantly working on it. (Lately it’s been adding dynamic builds and vocal harmonies, but the bridge is forever under construction too.)

Last August we performed at a wedding on a farm in Northeast Indiana. There was a beautiful, positive vibe all night even with a storm passing through midway through our set. So of course we stayed far too late. Zach’s mom’s house was a few miles away, so the four of us drove there to sleep an hour or two before dawn. When we woke, Lyndsy and I had to head back to the farm. I don’t remember what we talked about on the drive, but whatever was said in combination with the night before left me feeling positive and encouraged. On the way back, I began to write “The Clouds”

One of the good things about living somewhere flat is the sky. Outside of town, you can see for miles around. On this particular day, there was another storm system in the distance. The rain mostly missed us, but we still got to see the beautiful storm clouds rolling by.

Photo by efilpera. (The photo is of Italy, so imagine smaller hills.)

Ordinarily, it’s hard to appreciate the size of clouds. Something about the light that day made these clouds appear massive, like the tumbling mountains of mist they are. As we cruised past fields and farmhouses, it felt like we were moving with the clouds. That we were more a part of that world than the one down here. It was an electric feeling, so I had to capture it in song.

I tried my best to get light and dark to play well together in the chords, but I’m happiest with the structure of the lyrics, as simple as it is. The first stanza was what I wrote on that drive. Though it could be the opening of any blues song, I knew from the start that the rest of the song would have to bring in some emotional depth. The line “we make the rain” was really important to me. Acknowledging responsibility, not waiting for a “big break”,  and accepting consequences seem to be major themes of doing creative work in the 21st century. The final lines are of course an invitation to everyone to go make their own thing. So long as you remember there’ll be some rain and thunder on the way.

The Clouds

My baby and me are like the clouds
We breeze on by,
And I know we might seem rather proud
As we drift high above the crowd.
But comprehend we’ve got the simplest of needs:
A home wide as the unbuttoned sky.
The wild world for our roots,
We’re the mountains that move
Fenced by neither lease nor deed.

I found a fiddle on a shelf
Untouched in an age.
The color left my cheeks where I knelt
In fear that I gazed on myself.
The bow is meant to marry the string.
The shoe meant to rattle the stage.
It’s as grievous as plain
If a nature’s abstained,
If like a ghost a life passes unseen.

All the people chide,
“Won’t you come inside?”
But we make the rain.
You see, we make the rain.

Why can’t we all be like the clouds?
We’ll breeze on by.
The wild world for our roots,
We’re the mountains that move
Fenced by neither lease nor deed.
So disconnect and expel,
Kick your umbrella farewell,
And if you ramble, come ramble with me.
Yeah, if you thunder, come thunder with me.

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