Friday, February 5, 2016

Great Songs You Probably Don't Know - Ashes The Rain And I - James Gang

Oh Joe Walsh, you formerly drunken wild man you. You gave us such memorable songs as "Life's Been Good" where you tell us; "My Maserati does 185, I lost my license, now I don't drive." Then you gave us "Ordinary Average Guy" where you sing, "And every Saturday we work in the yard, pick up the dog doo, hope that it's hard." Yet you also gave us:

"Sometimes I sit and I stare at the rain
Isn't rain filled with sorrow?
Wonder if I'll see my home again
Will it be dry tomorrow?
Time passes softly and I'm a day older
But still I'm living days gone by
Ashes to ashes the rain's turning colder
Finding tomorrow the ashes, the rain, and I."

Now if you had told me Joe Walsh wrote that, I wouldn't have believed you, I would've instantly gone to the album that lyric is from and checked the liner notes. Sure enough though, Walsh did indeed write that.

The lyric is from the 1970 song, "Ashes, The Rain, And I" from his second album in his band the James Gang. That album, James Gang Rides Again is also home to the far more well known track, "Funk #49" which incidentally leads off the album while "Ashes, The Rain, And I" closes it.

It's a five minute song with the above listed lyrics being the only vocal part of the song, taking up all of thirty seconds. The remainder of the song is entirely instrumental, and not in the rocking, guitar-centric kind of way. There is some fairly simple acoustic guitar work, but a vast majority of the instrumentation is a huge, sweeping, symphonic string arrangement.

Interestingly enough, at 3:33 the strings form a refrain that would later be used in the Fatboy Slim song, "Right Here, Right Now."

"Ashes, The Rain, And I" is far from the typical Joe Walsh fare that he's known for in almost every way. It doesn't rock, but it does show off his skills as a writer and lyricist; two things that often get overlooked when listening to his music. At the very least it's a welcome change from hearing "Rocky Mountain Way" for the 3,000th time.

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