I composed this song back in my pre-Internet college days. At the time I was enamored with a lot of 1980s new wave music rife with romanticism and angst. And it shows. I remember teaching the song to a bunch of musicians hanging out in our college org room, and they turned it into an anthem of sorts for the broken-hearted.
This version is a culmination of several years of recording. I started laying down the instrument backing tracks around 2016 and went through innumerable versions and multiple vocal recordings. I wasn’t happy with my vocals until a certain point in 2017 when I finally gave up and said, “This is as good as it gets.” (The limitations and self-doubt of being more confident with composing skills than vocals.)
The Original Genesis of the Song
In 1989 I entered college after attending an all-boys high school. Culture shock didn’t even begin to explain the upset in my gut. Suddenly I was thrust into the company of truly amazing –but alien– members of the human race: the opposite gender. I didn’t know how to act. So of course, one of the first people I was drawn to was the complete opposite of my personality, an extrovert in every way possible, confident enough to talk with peers and adults alike in a way that I never could.
And one fine afternoon, on a park bench overlooking the Marikina Valley, she surprised me with an atom bomb: “I don’t believe in relationships. So you better not fall for me.”
I thought to myself: “Too late.”
To be honest, I must’ve replied with “Don’t worry.” Then promptly steered the conversation toward school work, hiding away all sentiment in favor of being a permanent resident of the friend zone.
The lyrics and the melody to this song came soon after that.
To be fair, however, the song’s lyrics have evolved over time. The main chorus didn’t change much but the pre-choruses have mutated from their original lines. Partly because they were too saccharine and corny. Not that the rest of the song isn’t saccharine.
But over the years, I’ve probably revised the pre-chorus and the bridge three, maybe four, times. Each version bringing in a bit more angst, friction, and life wisdom to the song.
Sure, the tune started out as a song of unrequited love. But over time it became a more general song about relational failures. How we’re all constantly trying to be better spouses or boyfriends or partners. And how it often ends in bittersweet failure. When you try to love using only human efforts, without divine help or intervention, you will fail.
The one image that rings true throughout the journey is that of water dripping from outstretched fingers – the effort of trying to catch what was never meant to be caught. It is both an image of trying to hold someone’s love as well as an image of trying to catch God’s grace but failing since there is always more of it.
To Catch The Rain
Just before the rain starts to fall from a sadly graying sky —
As pale as the emptiness within me–
That’s when I start to think of you
And everything around me seems to fade away.
Unprepared for the way you left me,
I’m afraid I was less than what you wanted me to be.
I want you back in my arms but the fear still remains in my mind.
In my outstretched hand I try to catch the rain
But never seem to get enough of sweet heaven’s waters.
In my heart, I try to hold on
But your love slips like shadows through thin, shaking fingers.
Just before the sun disappears into the bleeding sky —
As wounded as my eyes seem to be —
That’s when I start to think of you,
And something deep inside of me seems to give way.
All the words we shared run through me;
Your anger still haunts my memory.
I know the words that I wanted to say
but the walls that you built will not die.
There is no peace in memory.
Your gaze pierces right through my sanity.
I see your face burning bright in my dreams,
And your smile brings the pain back to life.