Friday, July 24, 2015

Ann Peebles – "I Can't Stand the Rain" (1974)

I can't stand the rain
Against my window

I don't mind a little rain against my window – at least not when I'm on the inside of that window.  

When I'm outside and a big-ass thunderstorm lets loose on me . . . well, boys and girls, that's a different story.   

Just as I arrived at the cheap chain motel where I was spending the night after my third day riding the Katy Trail, the heavens opened over Columbia, Missouri.

It could have been worse, of course.  About an hour west of that hotel, three tornados touched down in the Kansas City suburbs.  (By the way, is saying "It could have been worse" really supposed to make you feel better?  If so, it doesn't work for me.)

Here's some video of the tornado that hit Lee's Summit that night:

It rained almost two inches in Columbia that night.  The Katy Trail isn't paved, and I figured it would be such a mess the following day that a bike ride would be out of the question.

But I had nothing better to do, so I decided to give it a shot.  I headed to a downtown Columbia bike store, where I took out a sweet Giant hybrid for an exploratory ride on the MKT Trail.

The MKT Trail follows the right-of-way of a spur rail line that ran nine miles north from the main Katy line into Columbia.  While the Katy Trail is a state park, the part of the MKT Trail that I rode is maintained by the city of Columbia.

Thanks for cleaning up the trail, guys!
Other than the occasional puddle, the MKT was in surprisingly good condition.

Hinkson Creek, which the trail crosses several times, was well out of its banks.  But the trail itself was relatively firm and dry.

Hinkson Creek (Columbia, MO)
After a couple of hours on the MKT, I returned my bike and grabbed a quite bite at Flat Branch Pub & Brewing.

I should have a pint of Flat Branch's Katy Trail Pale Ale, but it was only 2 PM.  I just don't feel right drinking quite so early in the day.

Anyone care to guess what the metal device in this photo is?

The "Footpull"
It's the "Footpull," a hands-free way to open restroom doors.  No more using your hand to open the door to a public bathroom.  After all, a lot of other hands have touched that bathroom door handle . . . and we all know what those hands touched before they touched that door handle!

Click here to learn more about the Footpull.

Music writer Dorian Lynskey explained what inspired today's featured song in a 2014 article in The Guardian:

One evening in Memphis in 1973, soul singer Ann Peebles was meeting friends, including her partner, Hi Records staff writer Don Bryant, to go to a concert.  Just as they were about to set off, the heavens opened and Peebles snapped: "I can't stand the rain."  As a professional songwriter in constant need of new material, Bryant was used to plucking resonant phrases out of the air and he liked the idea of reacting against recent R&B hits that celebrated bad weather, such as . . . Love Unlimited's "Walking in the Rain (With the One I Love)."
So he sat down at the piano and started riffing on the theme, weaving in ideas from Peebles and local DJ Bernie Miller.  The song was finished that night and presented the next morning to Hi's studio maestro, Willie Mitchell, who used a brand new gadget, the electric timbale, to create the song's distinctive raindrop riff.  It really was that easy.  "We didn't go to the concert," Bryant remembers.  "We forgot about the concert."
Ann Peebles
Peebles and Bryant were married the next year.  Shortly after the wedding, she met John Lennon:

[Lennon] was not having such a great year.  This was during his infamous 18-month "lost weekend", when he swapped New York and Yoko Ono for a messy new life in L.A.  Lennon had excitably dubbed "I Can't Stand the Rain" "the best song ever" and went with friends to see Peebles perform at the Troubadour that February, where he proceeded to get hammered, stick a Kotex sanitary towel to his head and express his attraction to the singer in hair-raisingly graphic terms during her set.
"I don't think I was angry," says Peebles, amused by the memory. "I think I just smiled and kept singing."

"I Can't Stand the Rain" made it only to #38 on the Billboard "Hot 100."  It was a perfectly produced record and should have been much more popular.

The organist on "I Can't Stand the Rain" was Charles Hodges, who also played the Hammond B3 on a number of Al Green's records.  (Green was the biggest star in the Hi Records stable of recording artists.)

The Hi Rhythm Section
Hodges, his two brothers (Leroy played bass and "Teenie" played guitar), and drummer Howard Grimes formed the Hi Rhythm Section, which never got the credit it deserved.

Here's "I Can't Stand the Rain."  Name a better Memphis soul record if you can.  (Don't waste your time – there isn't one.)

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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