I posted this show-stopper of a performance by folk singer Melanie (with The Edwin Hawkins Singers) doing her classic “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” a couple of years ago, but fuck it, it’s that good, so here it is again. When is the last time you saw a musical performance this good on television? Was it even in the past decade? Sadly, probably not.
These days we’ve got Katy Perry and Rhianna at the top of the hit parade. It’s not the same thing. This powerful performance was about really connecting emotionally with the audience, not strutting around and sexing it up with a bunch of buffed-out, well-oiled himbo dancers! [Well maybe not those Dutch people in the top clip!] In forty years, they’ll probably still be using Melanie’s song in TV ads and film and TV soundtracks, but frankly, I don’t expect the same will be true of Ke$ha or Nicki Minaj’s tunes (I could say the same thing about Robin Thicke and any number of male performers, too, of course).
The song’s powerful lyrics were inspired by events that took place at the “Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam” demonstration of November 1969 and by Melanie’s experience performing at Woodstock. She’s describing the feeling of generational hope and solidarity that came over her as she looked out over the vast audience who held up candles (or more likely Zippo lighters) in appreciation during her soggy set.
When David Bowie asked “Ain’t there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?” on Young Americans, frankly, I don’t thing he was anticipating the extreme vapidity of today’s artistically merit-less top 40 radio.
Listen to her voice! How many little white girls have lungs that could standout against the mighty pipes of The Edwin Hawkins Singers??? Positively sublime!