Daily Song Study

Phil Collins – I Wish It Would Rain Down

In songs on September 13, 2011 at 8:30 am

This is a gospel song.

Really, it is. Though the subject matter isn’t religious, the style and delivery are drawn directly from the gospel tradition. Strip away the ’80s production and it’s a tune that could easily be sung by Ray Charles or Aretha Franklin.

The arrangement is noteworthy: Percussive keyboards only on the downbeats, with the other instruments barely filling out the spaces between, a warm pad drifting in the background. As usual with his tunes, the drums are the primary driver, and are very simple here. The ante gets upped on the bridge (Phil is, in my opinion, one of the best bridge writers) to hammer the last chorus home.

One of the things that makes this song distinctive in his catalog is that instead of his usual guitarist, Daryl Stuermer, he brings in Eric Clapton, giving the song a much harder edge than is normally heard in the Collins ouvre. It’s a power ballad approach, but done with the addition of the choir, it places the tune much more in the gospel camp.

The arrangement makes excellent use of dynamics, to the point where the listener is struck by the bigass guitar chord when it comes in for the chorus. Holding back and waiting for the right moment to apply power is a skill seldom used in mainstream pop music, thus why this song stands out.


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