Allison Crowe Revitalizes Melanie’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”

Allison Crowe’s Resonant Echoes Of Woodstock

Allison Crowe’s cover of Melanie Safka’s hymn to peace and love merits special attention.

First, the story of the song’s creation is necessary. Melanie, who was relatively unknown before Woodstock, appeared onstage early in the evening following one of the downpours that plagued the festival. As she began her performance, thousands of candles held by the audience began glowing. Thomas Ryan1 describes Melanie’s response to this extraordinary episode:

Moved by the experience, Melanie authored “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” in which she attempted to capture the spirituality and magic of that moment. To convey a sense of the warm crowd, she envisioned hundreds of voices joining her on the chorus. The Edwin Hawkins Singers had recently hit the charts with “Oh Happy Day” so she asked the gospel group if they would be interested in accompanying her. She “auditioned” the song before the congregation, and once they decided that it was sufficiently spiritual in content, they agreed.

Melanie’s vocal style combined flaky camaraderie with captivating passion and acted as a catalyst for the Edwin Hawkins Singers, who sing with all the controlled abandon that you would expect from a first-rate gospel group. Controlled abandon is also an apt description for what took place on that wet August weekend in 1969. By capturing the optimistic ideology and the powerful sense of love that was pervasive at Woodstock, Melanie’s first hit record became a moving homage to a once-in-a-lifetime event.

After “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” became a number six single in the spring of 1970 and the Candles in the Rain album from which it was taken went gold, it became a ritual for Melanie’s loyal fans to light candles at her shows.

Allison Crowe captures something of that special sense of “flaky camaraderie with captivating passion” and adds her own energy and gorgeous voice to the effort, creating a moment suffused with warmth, harmony, and amity.

Allison Crowe – Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)
Video from Adrian22


Note: Originally posted July 1, 2010 at, a predecessor of Cohencentric

  1. Thomas Ryan, American Hit Radio, Prima Entertainment, 1996 []

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