Rainy Day Women ♯12 & 35
|"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"|
|Single by Bob Dylan|
|from the album Blonde on Blonde|
|B-side||"Pledging My Time"|
|Recorded||March 10, 1966|
|Genre||Folk rock, blues rock, jazz|
|Length||4:36 (album version)
2:26 (single edit)
|Bob Dylan singles chronology|
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is a song by Bob Dylan. It is the opening track of his 1966 album, Blonde on Blonde. It was initially released as a single in April 1966, reaching No. 7 in the UK and No. 2 in the US chart. "Rainy Day Women", recorded in the Nashville studio of Columbia Records, features a raucous brass band backing track. The song's title does not appear anywhere in the lyrics and there has been much debate over the meaning of the recurrent chorus, "Everybody must get stoned". This has made the song controversial, being labelled by some commentators as "a drug song".
The song is notable for its brass band arrangement and the controversial chorus "Everybody must get stoned". Al Kooper, who played keyboards on Blonde on Blonde, recalled that when Dylan initially demoed the song to the backing musicians in Columbia's Nashville studio, producer Bob Johnston suggested that "it would sound great Salvation Army style. When Dylan queried how they would find horn players in the middle of the night, Charlie McCoy, who played trumpet, made a phone call and summoned a trombone player.
The song is essentially a simple blues chord progression in the key of F. The parts played by the trombone, tuba, piano, bass, drums, and tambourine remain practically the same in all of the verses. Much laughter and shouting in the background accompanies the song, mixed down to a low volume level, and Dylan laughs several times during his vocal delivery.
The track was recorded in Columbia Music Row Studios in Nashville in the early hours of March 10, 1966. In the account of Dylan biographer Howard Sounes, the chaotic musical atmosphere of the track was attained by the musicians playing in unorthodox ways and on unconventional instruments. McCoy switched from bass to trumpet. Drummer Kenny Buttrey set up his bass drum on two hard-back chairs and played them using a timpani mallet. Moss played bass, while Strzelecki played Al Kooper's organ. Kooper played a tambourine. Producer Bob Johnston recalled, "all of us walking around, yelling, playing and singing."
Sean Wilentz, who listened to the original studio tapes to research his book on Dylan, wrote that at the end of the recording of "Rainy Day Women", producer Bob Johnston asked Dylan for the song's title. Dylan replied, "A Long-Haired Mule and a Porcupine Here." Johnston commented, "It's the only one time that I ever heard Dylan really laugh... going around the studio, marching in that thing."
Sounes quoted musician Wayne Moss recalling that in order to record "Rainy Day Women", Dylan insisted the backing musicians must be intoxicated. A studio employee was sent to an Irish bar to obtain "Leprechaun cocktails". In Sounes's account, Moss, Hargus "Pig" Robbins and Henry Strzelecki claimed they also smoked a "huge amount" of marijuana and "got pretty wiped out". Sounes stated that some musicians, including McCoy, remained unintoxicated. This version of events has been challenged by Wilentz's study of the making of Blonde on Blonde. According to Wilentz, both McCoy and Kooper insisted that all the musicians were sober and that Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, would not have permitted pot or drink in the studio. In support of this view, Wilentz pointed out that three other tracks were recorded that night in the Nashville studio, all of which appeared on the final album.
In Robert Shelton's biography of Dylan, Shelton said he was told by Phil Spector that the inspiration for the song came when Spector and Dylan heard the Ray Charles song, "Let's Go Get Stoned" on a jukebox in Los Angeles. Spector said "they were surprised to hear a song that free, that explicit", referring to its chorus of "getting stoned" as an invitation to indulge in alcohol or narcotics. (This anecdote may be questioned, because the Ray Charles song was released in April 1966, after "Rainy Day Women" was recorded.)
After recording Blonde on Blonde, Dylan embarked on his 1966 "world tour". At a press conference in Stockholm on April 28, 1966, Dylan was asked about the meaning of his new hit single, "Rainy Day Women". Dylan replied the song was about "cripples and orientals and the world in which they live... It's a sort of Mexican thing, very protest... and one of the pro-testiest of all things I've protested against in my protest years."
Shelton stated that, as the song rose up the charts, it became controversial as a "drug song". He pointed out that Time magazine, on July 1, 1966, wrote: "In the shifting multi-level jargon of teenagers, 'to get stoned' does not mean to get drunk but to get high on drugs... a 'rainy-day woman', as any junkie [sic] knows, is a marijuana cigarette." Dylan responded to the controversy by announcing, during his May 27, 1966, performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London, "I never have and never will write a drug song."
According to Dylan critic Clinton Heylin, Dylan was determined to use a "fairly lame pun"—the idea of being physically stoned for committing a sin, as opposed to being stoned on "powerful medicine"—to avoid being banned on the radio. Given its Old Testament connotations, Heylin argued that the Salvation Army band backing becomes more appropriate. Heylin further suggested that the song's title is a Biblical reference, taken from the Book of Proverbs, "which contains a huge number of edicts for which one could genuinely get stoned". He suggested that the title "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" refers to chapter 27, verse 15 (in the King James Bible): "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike."
Dylan critic Andrew Muir suggested that the sense of paranoia suggested by the recurring phrase "they'll stone you" is a reference to the hostile reaction of Dylan's audience to his new sound. "Dylan was 'being stoned' by audiences around the world for moving to Rock from Folk," wrote Muir, who also suggested the seemingly nonsensical verses of "Rainy Day Women" can be heard as allusions to social and political conflicts in the United States. For Muir, "They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat" evokes the refusal of black people to move to the back of the bus during the civil rights struggle. For Muir, "They’ll stone you and then say you are brave / They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave" reminds listeners that Dylan also wrote "Masters of War" and other "anti-militarism songs that mourned the waste of young men being sent off to be maimed or killed".
Muir quoted a comment Dylan made to New York radio host Bob Fass in 1986: "'Everybody must get stoned' is like when you go against the tide....you might in different times find yourself in an unfortunate situation and so to do what you believe in sometimes.... some people they just take offence to that. You can look through history and find that people have taken offence to people who come out with a different viewpoint on things."
The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the UK Singles Chart. Unlike Dylan's previous six-minute hit single "Like a Rolling Stone", the single edit of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" was significantly shorter than the original album version, omitting the third and final verse.
The first cover version of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" was recorded soon after the original by Blonde on Blonde producer Bob Johnston and several musicians from the Dylan recording session. It was released in 1966 by Columbia records on the album Moldy Goldies: Colonel Jubilation B. Johnston and His Mystic Knights Band and Street Singers.
The Beatles sang a few lines of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" (John sings the line "everybody must get stoned" twice) near the end of the second take of "I've Got a Feeling" during the Apple rooftop concert, on January 30, 1969.
The song was covered by The Black Crowes, first released as the B-side of the 1992 "Hotel Illness" single. In 1995, the Black Crowes' version was included on the Hempilation: Freedom Is NORML benefit album for the NORML organization.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers covered the song many times between 1985 and 2008. One of their cover versions appeared on the Bob Dylan tribute album, The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, featuring Booker T. Jones on organ and Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass.
Jimmy Buffett performed a cover version in concert on his 2007 and 2008 tours.
A parody cover of the song can be found on The Meatmen's album Toilet Slave.
Lenny Kravitz covered the song on the 2012 compilation Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.
My Morning Jacket covered the song at their 2015 One Big Holiday festival.
South African protest musicians Johannes Kerkorrel and the Gereformeerde Blues Band performed a parody of the song in Afrikaans, called Almal moet gerook raak (literally "everybody must get smoked") on the Voëlvry Tour, a controversial country-wide procession performing protest songs in the language of the oppressor during 1989, i.e. 2 years before the release of Nelson Mandela. The song appears on the album Voëlvry Die Toer, released by Shifty Records
- Heylin 2009, pp. 309–310
- Björner, Olof (November 8, 2013). "The 10th Blonde On Blonde session". bjorner.com. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- Sounes 2001, pp. 203–204
- Wilentz 2009, p. 123
- Shelton 2011, pp. 224–225
- Whitburn 2010, p. 122
- Sounes 2001, p. 209
- "Dylan View On The Big Boo", Melody Maker, June 4, 1966
- Muir, Andrew (January 10, 2013). "Everybody Must Get Stoned" (PDF). a-muir.co.uk. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- Heylin, Clinton (2009). Revolution In The Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, Volume One: 1957–73. Constable. ISBN 1-84901-051-X.
- Shelton, Robert (2011). No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan (Revised & updated edition). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-184938-458-2.
- Sounes, Howard (2001). Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-1686-8.
- Whitburn, Joel (2010). Hot R&B Songs: 1942-2010. Record Research Inc. ISBN 978-0-89820-186-4.
- Wilentz, Sean (2009). Bob Dylan In America. The Bodley Head. ISBN 978-1-84792-150-5.