I’ll Take The Rain

May 7, 2007

Seriously now, were they even trying with “I’ll Take The Rain”? The verses plod along with what could very well be the least inspired strumming of Peter Buck’s career; the lyrics are treacly and clichéd; and the chorus reaches for a grandeur that it does not come close to earning. Michael Stipe undersings the entire song, but that doesn’t actually help matters — maybe if he’d gone for it a bit more, it might be more convincing as a corny power ballad. It’s exactly the sort of schmaltzy tearjerker that the band had been actively avoiding for their entire career, and all it does is prove that they were always right to avoid the obvious moves. There’s no poetry to “I’ll Take The Rain” at all; it’s just a bunch of empty dramatic signifiers pulled from bad movies, and it’s just waaaaaaaaaay too easy to imagine this being Zach Braff’s favorite R.E.M. song.


44 Responses to “I’ll Take The Rain”

  1. Ian Mathers Says:

    Oh, man – I hate Zach Braff, but I love this song. I think it’s probably the way Stipe undersings it that does it for me; he sounds slightly hoarse worn out and while it is a tearjerker I think it’s an unusually high quality one. And I’m not exactly an apologist for Reveal.

  2. I’m kinda anticipating a lot of “but I like this one” comments for this song, but I can’t lie — I kinda hate this one. It’s not my least favorite, but it’s really close to the bottom of the stack.

  3. Beethoven Was Deaf Says:

    Wow! I have always enjoyed this song and found it as a companion of sorts to “Everybody Hurts” (although a lesser companion). I will agree that music to this song could be a little more exciting but I have always found the lyrics to be fine, if somewhat straitforward for an REM song. In fact, I kept expecting this song to be a single (which, I know, doesn’t neccesarily mean it is good) from Reveal. For me at least, the song has always worked, especially considering that nature and the seasons sort of were an extended metaphor running throughout most of the Reveal album. In fact, I always felt that this song was slighted and should have been the album closer for Reveal as it does have a bit of epic grandeur and fits the lyrical tone of the album well. (I admittedly hate “Beachball” and consider THAT song the worse thing REM has yet recorded). I wonder sometimes if this song loses some of its emotional power because REM had already had the big hit, stritforward, simply lyrics ballad with “Everybody Hurts” – and if the songs had appeared in reverse order with “I’ll Take The Rain” being from AFTP and “Everybody Hurts” being the latter song from Reveal if many peoples feelings would be different. That said, there is no way that this song is the equal of “Everybody Hurts” – still, I wonder. . .

  4. corduroy13 Says:

    Matthew–I couldn’t be more right with you than this assessment of “I’ll Take the Rain”. My teeth shiver with hate when I hear it, except that I don’t anymore.

  5. dan Says:

    definitely a bottom five r.e.m. song.

  6. Star79 Says:

    Hm – I hate this song, but think that Zach Braff is one of the most artistically talented Shins fans around. To be fair, I hate the bulk of the end of Reveal, and Matthew seems to have singled this one out for the drubbing that I think Beachball, Chorus And The Ring and Summer Turns To High also deserve. Seems like there is real variety of unliked R.E.M. songs. Maybe it’s a ‘jumping the shark’ phenomenon – at some pointthey go to far and the R.E.M. spell is broken. You lose the thread and you have to tear your headphones off your head and toss them across the room.

  7. dan Says:

    star79 — i agree about all the songs you mentioned except “chorus and the ring.” it’s one of the few on reveal that i love.

  8. jim jos Says:

    ok I’ll be one of the ones…
    not an overly sentimental person but I freaking love this song.

    I think that “I used to think, as bird’s take wing, they sing through life so why can’t we” is very pretty. There is a real loss of innocence, evoked with that line.

  9. Voltaire Says:

    I actually don’t mind this song (which is different from liking it – note) because it’s easy to listen to if you just play it in the background. Some newer REM doesn’t even pass that test. It’s below average and near the bottom, but certanily not bottom five.

  10. Jerad Says:

    I don’t think I care enough about this song to put it in my “Bottom 5” list. I think that its album-mate “Chorus and the Ring” would much more easily fit there.

  11. Gabriel Peters Says:

    I heard this song the first time at a little dinner party of a friend who bought Reveal a few days after it was publishing (I Know “publishing” is not the right phrase, I am german, so please be lenient toward me…). At that time I was in a relationship crises and the song touched me somewhere at the bottom of the heard, especially the refrain – so there must be something good at that song… It´s the only song of Up, Reveal, etc. that reminds me a little bit of old school, pre Up R.E.M.

  12. wolfy Says:

    This is a most unusual love song-and why would REM do anything ordinary? First, the three memmbers of REM are “winter people” and this song shows a “winter” sensibility. Only “winter people” could have written it. It is about FRIENDSHIP, more than love.

  13. maclure Says:

    Well, I guess we`re batting the ball back and forth on this one. For me, the video, an animation of a dog, (included on the Best Of DVD) adds a surreal edge to proceedings that somehow makes sense for the song. One good thing is the brief country slide in the verses – forlorn, lonely and apt for the lyrical content. The middle 8 does not help matters – schmaltzy and unoriginal. For me: average song, above average when watched with the vid.

  14. jim jos Says:


    those who do not like it are missing out (IMHO). It’s a little too long, but I dig it. And, no, I do not cry when I read Hallmark card.

  15. mouserobot Says:

    I”ll Take the Rain stinks to high heaven. One could argue that it doesn’t sound as if they were trying thoughout Reveal.

  16. Dru Says:

    For my money, the remix of this song on the R.E.M.I.X. online release is 100 times better than the actual song.

  17. dan Says:

    i find it impossible to connect this song in any way with anything r.e.m. released before bill berry retired. it’s devoid of any r.e.m. hallmarks, save for stipe’s voice. even something as totally unique in their catalog as “hope” is still an r.e.m. song to me.

  18. Mike B. Says:

    In fairness, you don’t like power ballads in general.

  19. dan Says:

    well, perhaps, but i’m not sure if r.e.m. does power ballads too well, though they have some mighty, mighty regular ol’ ballads. “nightswimming,” anyone?

  20. Dan, Mike B was talking to me — he knows me personally!

  21. dan Says:

    haha, thanks for clarifying. i assumed he had taken note of my earlier comments on “saturn return.”

  22. Michael Black, Ph.D. Says:

    Schmaltzy? Hardly. Understand the subtext. This about someone who is choosing the lesser of two miseries. I admit that I have a personal attachment to it. It helped me come to grips with what had become a dead marriage, reducing the problem to its most basic elements. Frankly, the outro steeled me with the resolution to walk away.

  23. Mary Alice Says:

    wow Matthew Black, now that I hear your interp I can see it in the song.

    My interp was also “chosing the lesser of two miseries” but the two miseries for me were 1)getting into a relationship you thought could never work out, but you knew you loved the person and had to try or 2)not getting into a relationship with the person just for fear of the rain when it didn’t work out…I thought “I’ll take the rain” was “I’d have rather have this hurt than never tried a relationship with you…”

    but you’re right it could also be “I’d rather be alone than stay in this bad relationship anymore”…that could be too, and the fact that the song can mean both of those things makes it a better song, to me.

  24. Sam Says:

    Matthew I don’t think we’re going to get along very well. First you slate Wendell Gee and now I’ll Take The Rain. For me Reveal is Michael’s finest album lyrically. Many tracks stand out and I’ll Take The Rain is one of them. I love the lyric “if I hold, I’d hope you’d fold, and open up inside, inside of me.” which is wonderful poetry describing a yearning for intimacy and oneness with another.
    As for Michael “undersinging” the song, his vocal reminds me of his performance of Camera and brings a real sadness to the song.

  25. ozon Says:

    This song is okay, though I can see why people would dislike it. It goes on waaaaay too long at the end. The single edit is truly horrible, one of the worst hackjobs I have ever had the misfortune to hear.

  26. jjjp Says:

    well, i dislike to say about someone that he is stupid. but after this comment, i was very close to say it. it is definitely complectly stupid this comment of yours. were they even trying? are you fucking kidding, you fucking noname? there is no poetry to this? well, it made me cry several times (and this year too after i had heard it maybe 100 times). it may not mean poetry but it definitely provokes emotions – and for me, the most beautiful ones.

  27. Simon Says:

    Maybe it’s because I heard first this song while in the middle of a divorce, but I really connect with it and consider it among REM’s best. I think you are failing to pick up its emotional power, the idea that when a relationship goes bad it’s sometimes better to have none at all, which is not exactly a common sentiment in rock and pop songs. Have a miserable couple of years with wife/girlfriend and listen to it again just before you leave her!

  28. Michael Black Ph.D. Says:

    Just for the record, I, Michael Black, am not Mike B. or Matthew. Sorry for the confusion.

    I love Reveal. Ranks with Murmur and AFTP as one of their three best records.

  29. ADB Says:

    I also love the R.E.Mix version of this – it’s the only track that benefits from being remixed I think. But I think the original’s pretty great too, the chorus especially.

  30. Clare Says:

    I was enjoying reading this blog & smiling with dissaproval/ nodding with agreement at various entries until I read this one! Can’t believe you gave such negative analysis. First time I heard this I almost threw up, such was the effect on my fragile emotional state! I find Stipe’s vocal, & yes, understated melody, a work of genius. So what if it’s obvious & instantly comprehensible? “Poetry” is surely an individual interpretation, & I’ve caused myself too many headaches lovingly working out Mr Stipe’s song meanings. Each to their own & all that but I can’t help thinking you are more of a instant gratification REM fan, yes Stand & Man on the Moon are fun but it’s Chorus & the Ring, Be Mine & Sad Professer I choose to listen to again & again. I wouldn’t know a Zach Braff film (or indeed Zach Braff) if it fell on my head & knocked me out to the tune of “It takes the rain”, no hard feelings, will read on with “cautious” interest!

  31. Clare Says:

    Ooops – I meant “I’LL” take the rain” at the end there!

  32. Scott Malobisky Says:

    Stipe might end up as the next “Ol Blue Eyes” OBE2, Bono once called him a good old-fashioned crooner…Anyone ever hear REM do Wichita Lineman ?

  33. […] the problem with Reveal? I mean, there’s definitely something wrong with it, but aside from “I’ll Take The Rain,” the songs are pretty good. Some of them are great, even. “She Just Wants To Be” is the […]

  34. Dark Bob Says:

    Like the rest of Reveal, this song is kinda boring and tedious to listen to.

  35. Haywire935 Says:

    In contrast to many comments on here, this would be among my top 10 R.E.M. songs, it’s the emotion in it that gets me, and the pure awesomeness of the “Open up inside of me” line.

  36. Ilu Says:

    This is definitely one of my 2 or 3 favourite R.E.M. songs – and I’m definitely not a fan that likes only the newer stuff, many of my favourites are from the 80s 🙂 it’s just so beautiful and the chorus always makes me want to cry (well, there is a connection to a special time in my life). and, in contrast to many people here, in my opinion, Chorus and the Ring and I’ll Take The Rain mark one of the best song-couples in R.E.M.-history. It’s a shame that it’s surrounded by two of the weakesst tracks of REM ever, Summer turns to High and Beachball.

  37. Jules Says:

    I agree that it is a very strong song – probably in my top 10 REM just. Reveal is my second favourite album after AFTP, despite Chorus and the Ring being very weak.
    Reveal as an album just flows nicely, with well constructed songs musically. The Lifting demo version on In Time is also brilliant and IMO better than the album version.

  38. […] that would’ve provided a better conclusion to Reveal than the sentimental melodrama of “I’ll Take The Rain” or the lazy, luxurious “Beachball.” Posted by Matthew Perpetua Filed in […]

  39. Paul Alferink Says:

    Best Lyric:
    I used to think, as birds take wing,
    they sing through life, so why can’t we?
    we cling to this, and claim the best
    if this is what you’re offering
    I’ll take the rain, I’ll take the rain, I’ll take the rain.

  40. Paul Alferink Says:

    Love this song. The Lyrics are great. The chorus is great. The verses are good. Really don’t understand how you can dislike a chorus because you feel it’s not “earned.” And Stipe undersings it because the character is vulnerable. At least until the chorus, where the character embraces pain over love that only there when it’s easy.

    Then again, I like the soundtrack to Garden State. . .

  41. Tvrtko Štuka Says:

    Like it. Why? Well, I guess explaining it comes down to rephrasing a few of the things said earlier… the music, Stipe’s singing and the video blend in with the overall mood of the lyrics. Not really a tearjerker for me, actually it’s about preserving one’s dignity and respect for innocence “in the face of adversity”. Come to think of it, were it not “undersung” (and “underplayed” and… ummm… “underillustrated” by the video ;D) it would probably risk drifting into “schmaltziness”

  42. Again I really love this song.Just goes to show, should we really try to analyse songs? Some we love, some we don’t, we shouldn’t really have to explain or justify…

  43. The Moleman Says:

    WTF… this is my favourite song off of reveal!!!
    it’s a brilliant song. Yeah there’s simple chords and it’s not their best song, but it’s a bloody good one.
    What kind of idiot would post such a thing???

  44. Moleman Says:

    WTF. It’s a brilliant song, my favourite off of reveal. Yeah there’s simple chords and it’s not their best ever song, but it’s a bloody good one. What kind of idiot would post such stupid stuff about a brilliant song???

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