Monday, July 26, 2010

"Laughter in the Rain" (1974)

97. Neil Sedaka, "Laughter in the Rain" (Nov. 16, 1974, #1)

Neil Sedaka took up his position at the Brill Building in the early '60s with a charming teenybop act and a quiverful of tunes that often lodged dangerously in one's head: "Calendar Girl," "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen," "Next Door to an Angel," like that. He dropped out of sight then, reemerging with a big comeback bid in the mid-'70s that turned ultimately into a kind of unpleasant lounge play, along the way massacring one of his best hits, "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," slowing it to an unbearable crawl and acting too hard as if he meant it and we'd care if he did. But early into that comeback he must have been hungry or something because this song (and its flip, "The Immigrant Song," written in sympathy for John Lennon, and also a song he gave to the Captain & Tennille, "Love Will Keep Us Together") redeemed it all for me for a year or two there. Wistful, poignant, unafraid to go right for the heart-throat with aching strings and a soaring chorus, it's an emotional inversion and mirror image on some impenetrable level to the Everly Brothers' "Crying in the Rain." Personally, I have always found people infinitely more attractive in the rain, and the images here of walking hand in hand with the one he loves, without an umbrella soaked to the skin, hearing laughter, just go right through me (even if he says it's on a country road when it should be on a downtown street). Am I embarrassed to like this as much as I do? I suppose I should be. But it probably won't be the last time that I could be accused of an abject lack of critical faculty.

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