Wish It Would Rain (1968)
The past week I’ve gone back to listen to a lot of the older soul and R&B I enjoyed when I was younger, and The Temptations was one group I spent many hours listening to. The Temptations have a very unique discography, especially during the period when their music went from the standard “Motown Sound” to the funkier and psychedelic sounds they experimented with in the late 60s, up until the early 70s. The producer Norman Whitfield was responsible for taking The Temptations to that next level, which helped changed R&B and Soul at the time too.
This particular song I’m posting today is a song from The Temptations Wish It Would Rain LP (1968), and I find it interesting for a couple reasons. First, when this album came out it marked the end of an era for the group, as many things were beginning to change. A few months after this album came out, David Ruffin, the lead singer was kicked out of the group, after they grew tired of dealing with his missed shows, and his constant egoistical ways. Also, this album would be the last album The Temptations would release that would focus on the “Motown Sound”, and even feature contributions from Smokey Robinson, who was an early contributor to The Temptations success. After the success of this album Berry Gordy gave Norman Whitfield complete control of their production, which led Whitfield to take the group to a complete new direction the following year, which was heard when they released Cloud Nine (1969). The most interesting thing about this song though, is the contributions from a songwriter named Roger Penzabene. Penzabene co-write three songs for The Temptations that were actually all influenced by his wife who he dearly loved. He first wrote "You’re My Everything" from The Temptations album With A Lot of Soul (1967), which was a huge success. Unfortunately Penzabene found out his wife was cheating on him, and wanted to leave him for another man, which crushed him. He wound up penning the songs "I Wish It Would Rain" and “I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)” while dealing with his heartbreak, and not wanting his wife to leave him. Penzabene wound up committing suicide on New Years Eve 1967, a week after Motown officially released the first single, "I Wish It Would Rain" for The Temptations album by the same name.
Even though this song has a sad background story to it, I love it. I actually think the background story makes the song even more special, because it showed how art imitates life. When this song was written it came from a deep sadness that Penzabene had to put down on paper, unfortunately it became too much for him.
I still remember the first time I heard this record, I was in 12th grade Woodshop class. I had bought a copy of The Temptations compilation album My Girl: The Very Best of the Tempations, and since it was my senior year I didn’t do anything in that class, but sit there and listen to music. I had heard most of the songs from The Temptations “Classic 5 era”, but when I heard this song it seemed to real, just like how it was when I heard “I Wish It Would Rain”. I remember even thinking I’ve felt that way in my short life of romances, when I dated a girl named Laquisha. I remember thinking I could never find another girl who was as beautiful as her, boy was I wrong!