“The Gentle Rain” is a song written by Brazilian composer and master-guitarist Luiz Bonfa, as the theme for the 1965 Brazilian film of the same name. English lyrics were written later that year by Matt Dubey, a Broadway composer and lyricist, for Astrud Gilberto to sing on her album The Shadow Of Your Smile.
I’ve always liked how this song describes the love between the singer and the singer’s beloved as very sweet and very sad. I have also always had a penchant for rain songs. It is raining today, and I am living in a hotel room for the next several weeks, and I am embracing the sadness of the rain. At least the view from my room is of a dense wood, and not the parking lot.
“The Gentle Rain” was widely-recorded on easy listening and jazz albums and became an instant standard.
Among many of the great versions is Scott Walker’s take. The theme and sentiments in the song are so similar to those of Mr. Walker’s oeuvre, he could have written it himself. Photo credit: Chris Walter, from Walker’s television series, 1969.
Irene Kral was a jazz singer inspired largely by one of my favorites, Carmen McRae. Sadly, WordPress froze my blog until I removed my posting on her genius years with Atlantic Records. Kral recorded a spare version of “The Gentle Rain” in 1977, with New Zealand pianist Alan Broadbent. This is an amazing somber version. Kral was dead within a year, a victim of breast cancer.
Sarah Vaughn recorded a version on her Brazilian album Copacabana. I’m not normally a fan of her later recordings, as they are bit too sassy and brassy for me, but this one’s pretty tight.
Finally, an easy-listening version by the group Moody, who were session musicians. This has a light-funk feel. At one point it sounds like they’re about to launch into “Camptown Races.”
I also found this video of a guy named Jerry Leake playing “The Gentle Rain” on vibes. Major props to you, Jerry Leake!