Song Analysis: The Power With and Without Music in Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain”

I think power lies in this poem/song with and without music.  However, the addition of music certainly strikes more emotion.  Many understand the message is one of grief because of the music, but if you asked them for specifics they can’t place them.  I believe that with close examination of Newman’s choice of title, the words, imagery and metaphors, one will understand its powerful message as well.

The coming of rain, with dark clouds, bring both an image and a feeling.  The title sets up the piece by using the words it does.  A type of sad feeling comes from these images.

This song/lyrical poem is set up to have four lines in each stanza with rhyme from the first one being at the end of line one, two, and four.  In the second and forth stanzas (four actually being repeated again in the sixth stanza) the last word of the second and forth line rhyme.  In the third stanza, this is actually repeated again in the fifth stanza, and is also the chorus, the last word in the second and third line rhyme.  The repeated lines are called refrains, and the rhyming lines are couplets.  This poem also has many words that end in “ly” even if they don’t rhyme.

Figurative language is used more than precise words, and metaphors.  This piece does not use similes.  With the line, “Broken windows and empty hallways,” I think Newman is really saying to picture a place that is not taken care of and one that is lonely– no one dwells there.  This uses visual, auditory (silence), tactile imagery, and emotion.  In a line used in the first, second, forth, and sixth, I believe the author means the opposite of what he is saying, and is the use of irony.  He is being sarcastic in a way.  This tells me he is saddened by how human kindness is not what he believes it should be.

More figurative language and imagery helps in creating the tone and theme with the lines:  “Scarecrow is dressed in the latest styles, frozen smiles to chase love away.” This says to me that he sees people being manipulated, like a scarecrow, and not thinking for themselves when it comes to their appearance and how they act.  This ties in with the next line that means people pretend instead of showing their real feelings, like what is painted on a scarecrow’s face, which chases away real love – real connection.  This then takes us back to loneliness.  The poem/song creates that feeling, by implication, and actually comes right out and says, “Lonely.”

In the third and fifth lines, which are the chorus, they say the same thing.  The lines “Tin can at my feet, I think I’ll kick it down the street” brings a slew of imagery and metaphors with it.  The main ones are again, a feeling of being alone.  The kicking of a can means the kicker views as useless, except for in his personal use.  I get this by the next line that says, “That’s the way to treat a friend.”  He doesn’t really mean friends should be treated this way.  He’s saying that is how many treat their friends.  I see this author as being disgusted and saddened by humanity.

In the next line, the fourth, the author seems to be pleading with either society or God, to change this situation.  He wants society and God, maybe both, to “help the needy and show them the way.”  Newman implores his audience to DO something.  He’s asking for action.

Power lies in this piece with and without the music.  Because many people today are often in a hurry, Newman feels he needs the help of music to set them up in understanding the emotion he wants them to have.  In slowing down to examine the verse, an exact message is had without the music, however.

Bibliography

Kennedy, Gioia.  Literature, An Introduction to Fiction and Drama. Part 2. Ninth Edition.

New York:  Pearson Longman, 2005.

Kinzie, Mary. A Poet’s Guide to Poetry. Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Newman, Randy. I Think It’s Going to Rain Today. Arif Mardin, 1988.

—————-

The Song:

I Think It’s Going to Rain

Sung by:  Bette Midler in the movie, Beaches

Release date:  1988

Music/Text by:  Randy Newman

Producer:  Arif Mardin

Words to the song:

Broken windows and empty hallways,

A pale-lit moon in a sky streaked with gray.

Human kindness is overflowing,

and I think it’s going rain today.

 

Scarecrow is dressed in the latest styles,

Frozen smiles to chase love away.

Human kindness is overflowing,

and I think it’s going to rain today.

 

Lonely, lonely.

Tin can at my feet,

I think I’ll kick it down the street.

That’s the way to treat a friend.

 

Rise before me, the signs of glory.

Help the needy and show them the way.

Human kindness is overflowing,

And I think it’s going to rain today.

 

Lonely, so lonely.

Tin can at my feet.

I think I’ll kick it down the street.

That’s the way to treat a friend.

 

Rise before me, the signs of glory.

Help the needy and show them the way.

Human kindness is overflowing,

and I think it’s going to rain today.

 

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