So. Central Rain
June 15, 2008
Despite its title, I’ve always associated “So. Central Rain” with wide open blue skies. Here’s my explanation: The song doesn’t take place during the storm; it’s in the time immediately after the deluge.
That’s Reckoning for you — nearly every song on the record in some way deals with the aftermath of an event, and at least half of them are traumatic. It’s an album about mourning your losses, taking stock of changes, owning up to guilt, and, in the end, moving on. In this way, the recurring theme of water in the lyrics is extremely appropriate. Just as with the fire of Document, the floods of Reckoning are destructive, but also purifying. There may be panic and trauma on Reckoning, but it’s ultimately a record about finding maturity after a period of chaos.
“So. Central Rain” revisits the theme of communication from Murmur, but it’s notable that the inability to communicate has nothing to do with the singer’s social awkwardness, and everything to do with circumstance: The phones are down. Even aside from the chorus (“I’m sorry!”), a sense of guilt permeates every lyric and melodic turn in the song, implying that the anxiety related to the missed phone calls is symptomatic of a nagging conscience. The composition chugs along with a mellow grace — I suppose the body of the song could be described as ersatz country rock meets ersatz R&B — but it eventually reaches a sudden, cathartic vamp that rivals only “You” from Monster as being the most angst-ridden finale in the R.E.M. discography.