I Wish It Would Rain - the Temptations
The first Temptations record to feature the songwriting partnership of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong was "I Wish It Would Rain". Whitfield had taken over from Smokey Robinson as the Temptations' producer and been writing songs for them in various combinations, most successfully with Eddie Holland. But in 1967 Holland, along with his brother and Lamont Dozier, was in dispute with Motown boss Berry Gordy, so Strong stepped up along with one Roger Penzabene. This is one of two singles the trio wrote. Penzabene was a man of half Sicilian, half Irish extraction, whose shy demeanour masked a passionate romanticism. "I Wish It Would Rain" is directly inspired by his discovery of his wife's infidelity.
Penzabene is influenced by Smokey Robinson's extended metaphor lyrical style - I want it to rain so that
"....raindrops will hide my teardrops
and no-one will never know
that I'm crying"
The piano gives the song a gospel feel and the seagull sound effects evoke the tragic aura of a Shangri-las operatic tragedy, which intensifies with the closing thunderstorm. David Ruffin's lead vocal is brilliantly measured, evoking the lonely despondency of a man imprisoned in a hurtful relationship, the metaphor neatly turning back on itself, a man trapped indoors by the lack of rain, when people are normally stuck inside because of the rain. In the end, the storm is the storm of his emotions, as though the song was his wounded raindance.