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Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) – Challenge #186

Melanie wrote and recorded the song ‘Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)’ on her 1970 album Candles in the Rain.  This song was her breakthrough hit in the United States, and it climbed all the way up to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and it reached #3 on the Cash Box Top 100.  The record was ranked #23 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1970.   This song sold more than a million copies and in 1972, Melanie was named Billboard’s top female vocalist.  Melanie Safka wrote this song about her experience at the Woodstock festival in August 1969, where she was basically an unknown 22-year-old folk singer at the event, but she became a celebrity there, in the half hour set that she did on stage that Friday night, August 15, from 11:00–11:30 pm where she played 6 songs.

She never performed in front of so many people before and she was terrified, as her husband stayed behind in Europe and they wouldn’t let her mother on the helicopter with her, so she felt all alone and she never performed in front of a crowd larger than 500 people before.  It started to rain right after Ravi Shankar finished and before she went on.  She was happy to see the rain, as she thought that everybody was going to leave and go back home and she wouldn’t have to perform in front of this large crowd.  The announcer Wavy Gravy told the audience that if they lit candles, it would help to keep the rain away.  By the time she finished, the whole hillside was a mass of little flickering lights and Melanie was never afraid to perform in front of a crowd again.  Melanie said, “Woodstock was an affirmation that we were part of each other, that there was more to life than doing what your mother and father told you and that certainly we shouldn’t have been involved in the Vietnam War.”  When she did the Woodstock show, her mother had to drive her to the festival from their home in Elberon, NJ which is just north of Asbury Park and she said that she never got paid for her performance.  Melanie saw Woodstock as a place where people had the right spirit, which allowed them to overcome amazing obstacles.

Melanie got her big break because of the efforts of Buddah co-founder Artie Ripp, as the one-time-musician-turned-record-executive was a friend of the Woodstock organizer Artie Kornfeld, and Ripp decided to take a risk and send Melanie to the festival.  She and her late husband Peter had an office in the same building as the people that were organizing Woodstock.  Melanie didn’t fit the mold and no one in the music industry thought she was going to make it, as even though some DJs were playing her songs on the radio, fans couldn’t buy her music, because the record label didn’t stock it in stores. Melanie’s husband Peter Schekeryk said that the concert tradition of people holding up lighters at shows was started by his wife, because hippie members of the Hog Farm commune distributed about a half a million candles as a spiritual offering in the dark that night on Max Yasgur’s Farm in upstate New York.

Friday night at Woodstock was folk night and the lineup included Richie Havens, Swami Satchidananda, Sweetwater, Bert Sommer, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, Melanie Safka, Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez.  Melanie made a recording of ‘Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)’ that was a collaboration between her and the Edwin Hawkins Singers gospel group, who had reached the national Top Ten the previous year with their hit ‘Oh Happy Day’.  The Edwin Hawkins Singers got a deal with Melanie’s label Buddah Records and this rendition showcased black and white harmony, unity and power which was rare back in 1969.  The Edwin Hawkins Singers brought a vibrant, spiritual feel to this song and lyrics describe what Melanie felt as she looked out at the sea of people in the audience who had all lit candles to let other people know that everything was going to be OK.

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

We were so close, there was no room
We bled inside each others wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

So raise the candles high
‘Cause if you don’t we could stay black against the night
Oh, raise them higher again
And if you do we could stay dry against the rain

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

We were so close there was no room
We bled inside each others wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace
Some came to sing, some came to pray
Some came to keep the dark away

So raise the candles high
‘Cause if you don’t we could stay black against the sky
Oh, oh, raise them higher again
And if you do we could stay dry against the rain

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
You gotta lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
You gotta lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
You gotta lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Oh lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Let it all down, let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds oh oh oh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh
Uh uh uh uh

Uh uh uh uh lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown

Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown
Lay down, lay down, let it all down
Let your white birds smile up at the ones

The challenge today is to focus on this song and use it for a short story, a piece of flash fiction, or a poem that you can share with the WordPress writing community.  There is no need to stick with this song, as you could write about another song by Melanie, or any of the other performers that went to Woodstock.  You could also write about doves being the white birds that symbolize peace.  You could write about what you think are the ones who stand and frown.  If you would like to write about the phenomenon of people lighting up lighters at concerts, which today has been almost entirely replaced by cell phones that would make an interesting post.  You could write about the significance of man discovering how to control fire, or add your thoughts about rain.

The whole point of this MM Music challenge is to get you to think, to trigger something so that you can show how creative you are and everyone is welcome to participate.  This challenge is very loose, so pretty much whatever you come up with will be acceptable.  I try to throw some ideas out there for you and if they seem right, then go with it.  You could write about a candle that you made, or how often you light up candles.  If you think that you know what Melanie was getting at when she sang about bleeding inside of someone’s wounds, it would be much appreciated if you to explain that.  Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie brings you a dose of fetish, good friends and an incomparable muse and next Friday on July 16 Dylan Hughes will be here with her First Line Friday.  I will be back on Friday, July 25 with another MM Music Challenge where we will discuss the song ‘Hello, It’s Me You’re Looking For’.  You can either create a ping back to this post, or place your link in the comments section below.

About newepicauthor

My About Me section is meant to provide my readers with an honest picture of myself that gives a little bit of background information on who I am and I will wrap this up with a catchy image. I am a story teller and I like to use my imagination. I am interested in many things, but a few of my favorites are watching the NFL and playing golf. I do not like onions and I always make sure that my food does not contain any. I had two wonderful parents, my dad Herb Adams was a television repairman and my mother Mary Adams was mostly a stay at home mom. They are both deceased now and I miss them. I am a retired Electrical Engineer specialized in control systems. I held many different positions because I worked mostly as a consultant. I did work as a Substitute Teacher, for a while, but the kids were awful. I am happiest when I am writing, as this gives my life has a purpose. Forming a sentence with meaningful words that articulate my inner feelings is an everyday quest for me. Every writer needs to tell their story, and all writers have their own style. All stories starts off with characters, who are able to entertain the reader. Creating realistic lovable characters is the best way to tell a story. If you are able to develop characters that become real to you, then you will know exactly what they will do say and do next and this lets your story progress to the completion. Writing changes everything and having the calling to create something new through the power of words is much more than just making marks on a page. Once written, a book can be used by many people to learn and be entertained. The act of writing can be compared to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as it contains an inherent fuzziness, because various people may derive different meanings from reading the same words. You can never know the true nature of written words and the best I can do is hope is that people will understand the meanings that I am trying to convey. There are no clear-cut laws on how to write and it is impossible for me to determine how my readers react to my books.

12 comments on “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) – Challenge #186

  1. newepicauthor
    July 9, 2021

    Reblogged this on A Unique Title For Me and commented:

    Melanie was in England working on a film score in a studio that was right next door to where The Rolling Stones were when she decided to go do this Woodstock thing. Melanie hadn’t yet recorded her hit ‘Brand New Key’, but things were going well for her in Europe. She envisioned three days of peace, love, and music that would be like a picnic with kids, families, all ages, all kinds of people, all colors, a gathering of humanity interested in arts and crafts, and going shopping, so she told them to sign her up. She had no clue, but until Woodstock happened, nobody really knew what it was going to be like. She went with her mother to the hotel where the artists that would be playing at the festival were staying. Melanie had never met a famous person yet in this point of her life, except Rod Stewart who was in Small Faces at the time, but he really wasn’t famous yet. At the hotel, she saw Sly Stone and Janis Joplin and then she realized how big this event was going to be. That traffic was impossible and she was told that she would be flown to the concert in a helicopter and there was no room for her mom.
    When the helicopter landed, Melanie was escorted to a little tent with a dirt floor where she developed a deep bronchial cough. Melanie’s idol Joan Baez was nearby and she heard Melanie coughing, so she sent over an assistant, “a little hippie girl,” with tea, lemon and honey. The Incredible String Band was supposed to go onstage before her, but they were concerned about being electrocuted, because of the weather, but Melanie was an acoustic act at this time, so she was moved up. Melanie was one of the few female performers and she said that when she was asked to go on stage and sing with her guitar at one of the most iconic events of all-time, that she had her first out-of-body experience. She started walking across that bridge to the stage, and she left her body, going to a side, higher view and this wasn’t because her mind was altered by drugs. She dissociated herself, leaving her body because of fear. Once she left her body, she was able to watch herself ascend that stage on that wooden plank and it was like she was hovering over her right shoulder and everything was silent. She saw herself sit down and she came back to her body when she started singing.

  2. Pingback: Battles with Peace – Reena Saxena

  3. Pingback: Never Have to Be Alone – A Unique Title For Me

  4. Pingback: “Beautiful People” – Melanie – ©J.E.Goldie MLMM Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) – Challenge #186 – July 9, 2021 |

  5. Ron Rowland
    July 9, 2021

    Great story. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  6. Pingback: MMLM Music Challenge – Friday 7-9-2021 | sparksfromacombustiblemind

  7. Melanie B Cee
    July 9, 2021
  8. Lorraine
    July 9, 2021

    The woodstock movie (Melanie doesn’t appear — one of several artists “left out”) came out in 1970. Circa 1972, it was the “Friday Night Movie” at my high school. I don’t know who was in charge of choosing the flicks, but I don’t know how many high school students watched Woodstock in their school auditorium? I’m displaced by a tree branch through the roof of our house; not sure if I’ll get an entry in by next week. As usual, your song pick brings back lots of memories.

    • newepicauthor
      July 9, 2021

      Melanie, Mountain, Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, Blood, Sweat & Tears and a few other groups were left out of the movie. I did find a video of Melanie at Woodstock.

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This entry was posted on July 9, 2021 by in Music Prompt and tagged .
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