When I attended high school in the 1960s as a “military brat” in Japan, I would have to ride a drab Navy-gray school bus daily for about 40 minutes to Yokohama. We’d have a lot of fun during those rides, and I’m not sure how the Japanese bus drivers put up with us. One great memory is the back of the bus rendering a terrible version of The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain.”
Sunshine blue skies please go away,
The girl has found another and gone away.
With her went my future my life is filled with gloom,
So day after day I stay locked up in my room.
I know to you, it might sound strange but I wish it would rain.
One good musical friend (Brent Cooper, drummer in one of my high school bands) would sing lead while the rest of us would respond with “Oh how I wish that it would rain.” Even if some of us didn’t know all the lyrics, the entire bus of kids would build a final crescendo when the part came around exclaiming “Oh I wish it would rain, Let it rain, let it rain.” It was a sure way to bring a little sunshine to our teenage lives.
Sadly, on New Year’s Eve 1967, songwriter Roger Penzabene committed suicide a week after the release of “I Wish it Would Rain.” He couldn’t bring himself to leave his cheating wife. Besides "I Wish it Would Rain," his other last composition ("I Could Never Love Another") is also full of heartfelt soul and emotion.
A year or so later, The Chambers Brothers covered The Temptations’ hit. The USO brought them and The Temptations (as well as many other great acts like Sam & Dave, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.) out to the Yokosuka Navy Base where I was lucky enough to see them live in concert for about $5. Released in 1968, the song appears on their vinyl album “A New Time – A New Day” as the opening track on the B-side. The Chambers Brothers had hit it big with "Time Has Come Today," and I liked their sound. They had great vocals backed up with their signature Sixtyesque psychedelic soul, jams, cowbell, screams and fuzz-toned guitars. I think I’ll go hunt down that LP and give it another spin for some fine nostalgic memories of the sixties and my high school bus rides.