Thursday, December 1, 2011

Song #35 of 9999 - The Rain, The Park & Other Things by The Cowsills

Song #35 of 9999

Title: The Rain, The Park & Other Things
Artist: The Cowsills
Year: 1967
Album: The Cowsills

I heard The Mamas and Papas singing "California Dreamin'" on the radio today and it reminded me of how overrated they are and how much I like The Cowsills. I did not know this until today, but the Cowsills were the real-life prototype for The Partridge Family: six siblings and their diminutive mom singing flower power songs that belie their Rhode Island roots. This song went to #2 on the charts when charts mattered and they later scored the same position with the title track from the movie "Hair," a much lesser song, but gimmicky enough to sell records.

I never thought about why I like this song so much or why it sounds so different from other songs. So I sat down and plunked it out on the guitar to find something very interesting. The song is in the key of B (well, according to my likely out-of-tune guitar), but the tonic chord is avoided almost entirely! Here's the structure:
  • Verse: ii iii IV I
  • Pre-Chorus: ii V I II V
  • Chorus: ii iii IV V ii iii IV V
  • Post-Chorus fall-off: V IV iii ii V---harp
The progression through the song works to create a constant sense of rising right up until the feather-like descent of chords and vocals that follows the chorus lands the listener on a soft pillow of harp glissandi. Too flowery? Remember, this was 1967 and any trip that ended like that would have been considered a success.

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