Rain Dance

“Rain Dance” by The Guess Who (1971)

Around two years ago, during one of those long nights in the offices of Midnight Oil Studios, I lifted part of a rather obscure song called “Rain Dance” by The Guess Who and reversed it in my music software and sampled a part from it that reminded me of a chant for some reason. It was written by Burton Cummings and Kurt Winter and performed by The Guess Who. It reached #3 in Canda and #8 in New Zealand and #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was featured on their 1971 album, So Long, Bannatyne. The song was produced by Jack Richardson.  

It was a spellbinding piece of music to me for (some reason) and I recorded it into my the music software on my MacBook Pro. I forgot about it and pretty much music altogether for a period in my life as my word muse called writing or that image muse called film or photography. I wrote a novel with two friends in this period. I created a number of dioramas and posted about them with photos and essays for almost a year. All after recording the sample from the Who and reversing it on a track in my music software. Then for

The only real constant has been writing. However, sometimes the impulse to write is stronger than at other times. I don’t mean just the hours of a day or evening. But rather, entire cycles in my life. These cycles have been so evident when I look back on my past with new insights from the present.

* * *

Yet my familiar music muse has returned again and I have brought up electric instruments from their peaceful sleep on the shelves on the walls in my basement. I have brought up the Tascam Porta Studio 24 Track from the basement. Have brought up from the basement the following that are all linked into the Tascam 24 track system. There is the Korg Minilouge Polyphonic Synthesizer, the Korg Electribe Sampler, Korg Kaosillator II and a Novation MiniNova. There are a few great instruments still in the basement – a Kross  Korg keyboard – but it seems impossible to bring it up right now due to the limited amount of space in my office as you can seen from the below pictures.

The Band

The two and a half minute piece was recorded by a Zoom H6 with the two stereo mics on top. Against the repeting reverse chant of the Who I play the Minilogue synthesizer in in a note. Soon, this single note plays off against the music from the MiniNovation keyboard set on a low bass sound. The only higher sounds in the piece are provided by the Koassilator and the Electribe. Two higher sounds and tow lower sounds. Fans of Coltrane and McCoy Tyner might see some reference to them in the piece. (I wrote a biography on Trane in 1980).

Anyway, I hope to upload this to the site soon. I need to check about copyright because it is music from the Who. I was amazed at the recording quality from a quick decision to record. And no runs through with the instruments before hand. As spontaneous as I can get with my music muse. And, its a good thing because I think an interesting piece of music was captured.

Larger View of the Office (With my trusty Pinot Grigio on the desk)

Have a number of other pieces lined up for background like the Who’s “Rain Dance.” I want to focus on historic jazz riffs or phrases. One of these, is already recorded in a track like “Rain Dance” above as a single track in our music software program. It is a phrase I’ve sampled from the famous Freddie Hubbard tune “Red Clay.” Another sample ready to go in our library is one from Victor Lewis’ famous “Alter Ego.” The Lewis sample is recorded in my music software and played off against a snyth bass in the program’s software. I think I I used an Alesis Q25 hooked directly into the computer via the USB port.

The basic idea is to take classic phrases from jazz and mix with modern electronic music. Of course, one could say classic phrases from other musical genres. Jazz happens to be my music genre just like punk or hip hop is someone elses music genre. But all so much the same I feel in the end. I am so thankful to my children for keeping me in touch with such a wide spectrum of music.

* * *

And the purpose of all of this? Perhaps not much more than bringing back a favorite music phrase that has meant much to me. The desire to bring back this phrase (memory) of music – sample it and use it as background for a compostition and connection to my other instruments. I’m not concerned how much a piece or phrase of music has meant to others. It’s key importance is to me. I is, admittedly, a difficult state to be in during this era of social media rather than personal space. When that founding symbol of America of equality is trending over the founding symbol of freedom.

Its my desire to utilize the “band” in various ways. The potentials are incredible when I play around with the various instruments, no need to read the 200-page manuals. I make changes on the spot without hardly any planning. For a few months, I’ve been playing around with this system and recording on the Tascam.

This is the way it should be, it seems to me. A musical phrase from the past, brought back to life, for the present. Like the reversal samples from The Guess Who’s “Rain Dance” above. Played off against a few synthesizers. Very happy with the recording we got on the Zoom H6.

The Korg Minilogue Polyphonic Synthesizer

Anyway, I guess the idea is to establish some type of container for musical memory. A container for the pieces of music I used to hum over and over again. Not just jazz but the pop of the late 50s and early 60s. Phrases from the jazz my father introduced me to. All of the big bands of jazz I heard on his stereo (downstairs) at night. This is the music I want to bring back and sample parts of it to tracks on our music software and ultimately a track played off against my synthesizers.

Hopefully, we’ll get clearance to post our recording of “Rain Dance” played off against the reverse-sampled track from the 1971 song. Will upload to Midnight Oil immediately when this happens.


Visit The Guess Who website.

Wikipedia on The Guess Who



Leave a Reply