Woke up tired and dark today. Sat down in Starbucks for six hours of awful degree work before it’s time to pick up my son. Turned on the laptop. Watched Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video.
“No Rain” is a weird thing in my house. I’m a huge Blind Melon fan, and I often think of the song as one of the band’s lesser offerings. Even though Melon only released three albums, they’re responsible for a ton of fantastic music. Hell, listen to “Change” and “Soup” and tell me the two aren’t electric. But “No Rain”—it depends on who’s listening, and when. My wife hates it. Like, considers it torture. My kids dig it, but within reason. And I’m high and low, up and down. It’s either Melon’s best song or Melon’s 20th best song. Depends on the moment.
Today, it’s their best song.
“No Rain” isn’t complicated. I’m pretty sure any half-OK musician can play it. But great music—for me—isn’t about complexity of task. It’s about the evoking of emotions and mood. And “No Rain” is pure joy. It’s a happy song with a happy video and, at the time, a happy band. Melon was on the rise, and their tune was a hit.
It’s actually a pretty fascinating thing. Capitol Records signed Melon, and let the band release three singles before “No Rain.” None did very well, and the CD was stuck at about 150,000 sales. A couple of guys with the label begged the big guns to make a video for “No Rain,” and they relented—but only gave Jeremy Hammond $75,000 to do so. “So we decided to shoot a video and that the concept should basically mirror the album cover,” Ted Devine, the vice president for A&R at Capitol, told Greg Prato for his amazing Melon oral history, A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other. “We were under no pressure … only that everything was riding on this.”
Hammond and gang sought out a girl—but not an overwhelmingly attractive girl. She had to be chunky, sorta awkward, a bit of an outcast. They rejected one cute child after another until settling upon Heather DeLoach (who, interestingly, grew up to be very pretty). The video was shot in a field near the Reagan Library outside of Los Angeles. Shannon Hoon, the gifted lead singer, shaved his goatee for the shoot. He arrived strung out on acid. When asked why, he later said, “It was such a beautiful day.” I’m not sure what this means, but I guess one needs sunshine for the best acid trip. No rain.
Anyhow, the video is a classic, as it should be. It’s timeless, fun, quirky, beautiful. I also dig how the field was filled with different animals, and there’s even a photo of Hoon—again, strung out and naked—with a horse.
I sometimes wonder if the shooting of “No Rain” was Blind Melon’s best day as a band. The members were young and optimistic and up-and-coming, and nobody yet knew the depths of Hoon’s addiction.
They would go on to tour the world, open for the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, play Woodstock ’94, appear (nude) on the cover of Rolling Stone, release an all-time terrific album (“Soup). But sometimes the innocence that couples with the rise trumps the excesses of success.
In fact, sometimes the rise is the success. We just don’t realize it at the time.