Neil Sedaka – Laughter in the Rain

Laughter in the Rain is a song that revels in its innocence. At the time of its release in 1974 Neil Sedaka had been largely forgotten; he had major hits in the early 60s, when the times and music were altogether different. While I do not know how people might have heard it in the 70s, I imagine the song was to many people a reminder of simpler times. And it still feels like that today, only now the 70s themselves have an image of innocence and simplicity. This shift in the perception of innocence is indicative of how people tend to see earlier times, their youth and time before we were born, in contrast with the adult responsibilities.

Reportedly Phil Cody, who wrote the lyrics, penned them in just 5 minutes after taking a walk. He had just fallen in love and didn’t really want to spend time with Sedaka to write the song. Maybe the whole situation is reflected in the story: it retains that feeling of first falling in love when life seems so much simpler than other times. And in some ways it really is: when the feeling is overwhelming, everything else becomes insignificant, including all your worries. The rain is sweeter, warmer, or if it’s cold, that too is an opportunity to get close, to feel the support and warmth of the one you love. The world may not be reduced to laughter and gentle kisses, but nothing else matters anymore, not even the task of writing a love song.

And that’s just where the song receives its strength from, although the pentatonic melody also contributes to the feeling of innocence and simplicity. In that sense the lyrics and the melody support each other nicely. There’s a sense of ease similar to just walking with someone and feeling like everything is understood, everything is interesting.

What is especially lovely about the song is that there are absolutely no hints of complications. Listening to this I’m struck by the realization how rare that is in a love song. Even if there aren’t any current bumps in the relationship described in a song, doubts and insecurities are often present, whether they are about the narrator, the loved one, or obstacles set by other people. Falling in love we get a glimpse of this presence that could be a reality even without the loved one: the rain is beating on the leaves, but the sky is not furious. There is just love of raindrops, the understanding of how we can laugh. “Sharing our love under stormy skies” could mean that the love is already there within each person. It’s just that finding that special someone we can finally share it, reveal it, and discover our own happiness when seeing each other and laughing together, no matter what the weather is like.

Thus the song is a nice reminder of what matters, walking hand in hand with someone, and just remembering that is enough to make you happy. Remembering the rain, the myriad possibilities present in a kiss, all of them wonderful. The light shines through, the woods have a fresh scent. We shiver; we are warm. We want the same thing, to feel intimate. And in that wish we are never alone, but a part of the same humanity, same possibility to love and be loved.