Early Morning Rain
|"Early Morning Rain"|
|Single by George Hamilton IV|
|from the album Steel Rail Blues|
|George Hamilton IV singles chronology|
"Early Morning Rain," sometimes styled as "Early Mornin' Rain," is a song written, composed, and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot. The song appears on his 1966 debut album Lightfoot! and, in a re-recorded version, on the 1975 compilation Gord's Gold.
Lightfoot wrote and composed the song in 1964, but its genesis took root during his 1960 sojourn in Westlake, Los Angeles. Throughout this time, Lightfoot sometimes became homesick and would go out to the Los Angeles International Airport on rainy days to watch the approaching aircraft. The imagery of the flights taking off into the overcast sky was still with him when, in 1964, he was caring for his 5-month-old baby son and he thought, "I’ll put him over here in his crib, and I’ll write myself a tune." "Early Morning Rain" was the result.
The lyrics suggest someone down on his luck, standing at an airport fence and observing the thunderous takeoff of a Boeing 707 jetliner. The general narrative of the song can be taken as a jet-age musical allegory to a hobo of yesteryear lurking around a railroad yard attempting to surreptitiously board and ride a freight train to get home. Lightfoot reflects that being able to capture this narrative was due to his steady improvement as a songwriter.
Notable recordings and performances
In 1965, the Canadian husband and wife duo Ian & Sylvia were the first artists to release this song. There was over a year's time lag between their recording and Lightfoot's recording and release in 1966. Peter Paul and Mary's version of the song was also recorded in 1965 and remains the most well know recording of the song and reached #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 in that year. The Grateful Dead also recorded the song in 1965. We Five released a version of the song on their 1970 album, Catch the Wind. Notably, the song has been adopted as a US Army marching 'Jody' cadence, "In the early morning rain with my weapon in my hand, I will make a final stand, and pocket full of sand".
- 1965 – Peter, Paul and Mary - #91 on the Billboard Hot 100
- 1966 – George Hamilton IV - #9 on the country chart
- 1971 – Oliver, Prism - #38 on the adult contemporary chart and #124 on the Billboard Hot 100
- 2005 – Paul Weller - #40 in the United Kingdom
Appearances on hit albums
- 1965 – Ian & Sylvia, Early Morning Rain - #77 on the Billboard 200
- 1965 – Judy Collins, Fifth Album - #69 on the Billboard 200
- 1965 – Peter, Paul and Mary, See What Tomorrow Brings - #11 on the Billboard 200
- 1966 – Chad & Jeremy, Distant Shores - #61 on the Billboard 200
- 1966 – George Hamilton IV, Steel Rail Blues - #3 on the Country Albums chart
- 1967 – Roy Drusky, Now is a Lonely Time - #31 on the USA Country.
- 1970 – Rank Strangers "Country Our Way" - #2 on the Swedish chart list
- 1970 – Bob Dylan, Self Portrait - #4 on the Billboard 200
- 1971 – Jerry Reed, Ko-Ko Joe - #153 on the Billboard 200, #7 on Country Albums
- 1972 – Elvis Presley, Elvis Now - #43 on the Billboard 200
- 1973 – Jerry Lee Lewis, The Session - #37 on the Billboard 200
- 1975 – Gordon Lightfoot, Gord's Gold - #34 on the Billboard 200
- 1977 – Elvis Presley, Elvis in Concert - #5 on the Billboard 200
- 2002 - Eva Cassidy, Imagine - #1 on UK album charts
- 2004 – Wendy Matthews, Café Naturale - #42 on the Australian Album Charts
- 2004 – Paul Weller, Studio 150 - #2 on the UK album charts
- 2016 – Billy Bragg and Joe Henry, "Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad" - #28 on the UK Album Charts
- Gordon Lightfoot: Extended Interview Retrieved 29th June, 2015.
- We Five, Catch the Wind Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Peter, Paul and Mary charting singles Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- George Hamilton IV charting singles Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Oliver Chart Singles Discography Retrieved March 11, 2012.
- Ian & Sylvia charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Judy Collins charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Peter, Paul and Mary charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Chad & Jeremy charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- George Hamilton IV charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Bob Dylan charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Jerry Reed charting albums Retrieved June 30, 2013.
- Elvis Presley charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Jerry Lee Lewis charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- Gordon Lightfoot charting albums Retrieved February 28, 2012.