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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Kassel

"Here Comes the Rain Again" and a lesson on the second scale degree

Bear with me, because this is actually pretty cool in the context of this song.


Unsurprisingly, given the weather in the Bay Area today, I first thought of today's selection because of its title.


I'm honestly a tad ashamed to so easily default to something about the elements when a storm comes in, but at least I hadn't done it before this. Having said that, it'll probably happen again, thanks to the late B.J. Thomas.


Tonight, though, is about Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, who together formed Eurythmics. A force behind the prominence of synth-pop and new wave in the 80s, Eurythmics rose to international prominence with their January 1983 album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and its title track, which has certainly taken on a life of its own. Just ten months later in November, the duo released Touch, which became their most successful album on both sides of the pond. Touch features the topic of today's post, "Here Comes the Rain Again," which ultimately served as the album's third and final single. An unabashed slice of orchestral synth-pop, "Here Comes the Rain Again" captures the moody aspects of rain while also using the elemental setting to present a portrait of doubt within a relationship.

For a song firmly in a minor key like "Here Comes the Rain Again," you'd expect the most prominent note to be one of the chord tones from the tonic minor — in this case the root A, the minor third C, or the fifth E. However, to my ears the most important note throughout all sections other than the chorus is the second scale degree, B. The second has an interesting place in Western scales; it's a note that is consonant (pleasant sounding) enough with nearly every tone in both minor and major scales that it's a common chord extension. It's also sometimes used as a suspension, in which it replaces the third (in the case of A minor suspended 2, B would take the place of C). All the while, the second cannot define a chord's quality on its own. It is therefore a very ambiguous note, and one which can be used in a variety of ways which add color and mystery to a piece without being overbearing.


In "Here Comes the Rain Again," Stewart employs B in essentially every chord in some way. Instrumentally, he particularly enjoys giving it to the high strings from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which consistently sound above Annie Lennox's alto vocals. Lennox's lines in the verse are centered around B as well, making the notes seem as if they hang in space, like raindrops frozen in time, waiting to fall. With much of her verse lyrics about wanting to do things — "I want to breathe in the open wind / I want to kiss like lovers do..." — the sense of suspension increases, as wanting to do something only results in looking ahead to a time where it may be possible.


When Lennox shifts to landing her lines on C in the chorus (which itself moves to the relative major, making C the tonic) the song feels like it's resolved for the first time, and the emotions in it become more pronounced. The lyrics becoming present tense — "So walk with me / Like lovers do" — add to the sense of progress, or at least of motion in one way or another. It's honestly fascinating to me that it takes a song of any kind an entire minute to feel like it's going anywhere, but "Here Comes the Rain Again" does just that while not feeling out of place and still very much being the synth-pop track Eurythmics aimed for it to be. That's a testament to Dave Stewart and his writing, arranging, and production, and also to Lennox for realizing what Stewart had in mind lyrically.


Yes, I may have come to write about "Here Comes the Rain Again" because of its title, but I finish this article with a new perspective on a lot of things that don't have to do with the elements, but rather have to do with musical storytelling. Eurythmics did the small things well in creating a song that piques my interest in the multiple ways it does.

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