So after both of the books that I was reading turned out to be duds, I decided to turn back to music. This review might seem a little out of place, but I wanted to turn back the clocks and review some of the most important music of my life.
I was 14 years old when “After the Rain” was released. Due to both the emotional and mental trauma that I was in; I was looking for someone to come and rescue me. Instead of finding a savior, I escaped my troubles with music. “After the Rain” was important because the music truly helped to safe my life. So what I wanted to do today was take a step back and reexamine “After the Rain” to hear if the CD still stood the test of time. This task also gained more importance because after 20 years Matthew and Gunnar Nelson will be releasing a follow up album to “After the Rain” titled, “Lightning Strikes Twice.” So I wanted to see if at 31 still loved the music with the same passion that I did at 14.
So back to when I was 14. Now time for the confession…I purchased the record because I had a huge crush on Matthew. Fine, I wanted to run away and have all of his babies. Can you blame me? (Matthew is on the left.) So that is the real reason why I purchased the cassette tape. I am taking you back aren’t I? Normally, I just listen to the singles on a record for the first couple of listening. But in this case, I listened to the entire record from front to back twice in one night. And I loved it! In fact, I loved the entire package. I loved the outfits—they were very colorful—I loved they wrote their own songs—I loved the harmonies—and I loved the fact that they could play their own instruments. Unlike the teen idols of today—who will remain nameless.
But there was one song that I still depend on when trouble comes to call. The title track of the CD “After the Rain” is the most important for me on the CD. It was if the song was written for me. Hang on…I have skipped ahead. I did not realize at the time, but at 14 I had the first major depressive episode of my life. My mother had just been diagnosed with OCD, my father was suffering from being a total and complete asshole, and my younger brother suffered from autism. I was not born from a mental illness, but between the stresses of trying to keep the family together and being an outcast at school—I started to break down. I also faced bullying at church and at school. The rumor was that I was a hooker and that I only charged 25 cents per sexual encounter. I had no refuge—until I discovered music.
Music was the space where I was not judged, where I was not picked on. I was not judged in the quiet space of my room listening to my walkman. Despite my severe depression, I was able to somewhat function in society as long as I was listening to the music. The other bands of my new found passion—Slaughter, Poison, Lita Ford, Stevie Nicks, Bon Jovi, and any other band that played with the amps cranked up to 11. This was also the era when MTV still played music videos. Nelson and their debut album was the central piece of my new found freedom. I had a small refuge and I used that refuge as much as possible. Then my crazy mother crossed a line.
One of our fellow church members commented on one of my Nelson posters. The poster that was objectionable was my favorite. Matthew just happened to not be wearing a shirt in the poster (which why it was my favorite, of course!), and the male church member objected to me having a half naked picture of man on my wall. So my mother went down to my room and ripped down every one of my Nelson posters before I went to school. My mother then stated, “I was going to give up my heavy medal starting today.” I grabbed my walkman and my “After the Rain” cassette and ran out the door crying and screaming. I knew that if I could only have one song, it would be “After the Rain” because I needed to have hope. Hope is the central message of that song.
When I came home from school that day, my mother had relented. I have no idea what changed her mind—I was only coming home to collect some clothes and as much food as I could carry. But I was able to keep my music. So I had won a small victory in the crazy house.
Matthew and Gunnar continued to make records but due grunge and a delay in their second record their second album was not released until 1995. Listening to “After the Rain” today at 31 is still emotional for me. I cannot listen to the CD without remembering all the pain from when I was 14. But the record still stands the test of time. It is a great example of rock with harmonies and great writing. If you have not listened to “After the Rain” or it has just been a really long time, I would encourage you to listen again. Along with “Lightning Strikes Twice”, Nelson will be releasing a live album recorded from the “After the Rain” tour and the “After the Rain” demo album. I was lucky enough to purchase the demo CD last year from their website. It is amazing to hear how some songs changed and to listen to the ones that did not make the cut. My favorite from the demo CD is called “You’re All I Need Tonight.” This is great rock n roll and the writing is amazing. I hope that you will try it out. My only regret with “Lightning Strikes Twice” is that I will not be able to see Matthew and Gunnar in person when they first play these songs. I hope they put the video on You Tube.
For more details about Matthew and Gunnar see their official website: http://www.thenelsonbrothers.com/indexa.html. There is not an official release date for “Lightening Strikes Twice,” but I do believe that the new CD is coming. I hope you listen with open minds.
PS. I still have a crush on Matthew Nelson.