Everyone knows where they were and what they were doing when they first found out. I had just started my day and had turned on the TV. I still feel the same way. Hurt, horror, anger, patriotic. How dare they? do they know what they've done? Fourteen years later and this story is not done. When it is, the world will be a better place. GOD bless America.
Bring on the rain
"This song was just trying to be a song of empowerment, more than anything," muses songwriter Billy Montana. "And not being able to be kept down. Helen Darling and I actually had had a line in a song that said, 'bring on the rain.' And I felt like it deserved to be more than just a line. I felt like it deserved to be a title. And so I presented that to Helen and she loved that idea. And we took a couple-three days maybe to really hone in on it. But that also was a guitar vocal demo. Helen's vocal. Helen's a great singer, too, and sold the song, and Jo Dee heard that in a pitch meeting and said, 'I'm gonna record that song.' And by golly she did. It said things that she likes to say. We didn't write it for her. I very rarely go in to write songs for something in particular. You write as good a song as you can, and hope that it lands where it's supposed to land."
Released on September 10, 2001, this song, with its message of strength, became the unwitting anthem for the United States after the terrorist attacks. September 13 was the first time Billy Montana heard it. He says: "The song had been on Jo Dee Messina's Burn album for over a year, and it was the fourth single off of that project. It was released to radio on September 10th, 2001. So, of course, September 11th the buildings went down, the World Trade Center. And if you ever can go back to remembering how things were for that week, there's things that I recall, first of all, people were standing in blood lines for days to give blood. People were wanting to know where they could send contributions to for the victims and the families of the victims. They weren't wanting to be entertained. To my recollection, all of the radio stations in town turned to news information, and just call-in. Everything as normal was not normal. It kind of shut down. And so that all was still going down two days later.
We fly an American flag in our front yard, and I pulled up the driveway, and I had the radio on a Country station when 'Bring On The Rain' came on, and that's the first time I heard it on the radio. And it was interwoven with sound bites from Ground Zero, and President Bush speaking, and Giuliani speaking, and sound bites from the firemen, and I mean it was just an overwhelming moment. Because at that time everybody was looking to be able to do something – anything. That's kind of the attitude I think that the whole country had. So, an extremely powerful moment. I just broke down, it was just overwhelming. Because when you think about it, when I go back and analyze it, the whole reason I got into writing songs is because I was affected by songs when I was young. And that's what you want to do; you want to be able to communicate some sort of empowering message. Not all the time. I mean, sometimes you want to entertain. But the songs that I listened to were songs that dealt with – I'm saying that I grew up on and fell in love with – were the songs that dealt with feelings.
Anyway, we began to think – and not that it mattered at the time, because it was like, wow, is this going to be a song about 9/11? And obviously it didn't start out that way, because 9/11 hadn't even happened, and it had already been shipped to radio two weeks prior, and it wasn't. I just think it was timely that it served to assist, I think, a little bit in the healing process when radio stations went back to playing music.
They didn't even do a music chart that week because nobody was playing songs. When the chart fired up again, there was a very small number of songs, like maybe 5, that had any upward mobility. And that included 'God Bless The USA,' I think Faith Hill's version of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' a couple of other songs like that, and 'Bring On The Rain.' Everything else went backwards because there was no music for a while."
There are times when the songwriter will get attached to their own demo so much that it's tough, upon hearing the singer's rendition of their song, to get used to the differences. Then there are times when the marriage of a singer to a song is so serendipitous that the writer can imagine it being done no other way. Such is the case with this song.
"I Just told somebody that yesterday," confesses Billy. "The guy I was writing with says, 'You know when you go in and you're used to the demo, and you're used to your own inflections and everything, and then when you hear the record, you're kind of let down in spots" and it just takes something to get used to? But I was just the opposite. I felt like they did an incredible job of interpreting the song. Jo Dee's production is really understated. It's not overproduced. It's just perfect to me. I mean, it's very tasteful." (Read more in our interview with Billy Montana. We also spoke with Jo Dee Messina.)
I took a lot from the web, here, but I was just trying to express what I feel.