Updated: Oct 25
There are songs that you recognize instantaneously from the opening riff. Like Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” or Garth Brooks “Thunder Rolls”, those songs are undeniable. “I’m No Stranger To The Rain” is one of those songs. When Ron Hellard, and Sony Curtis wrote the song, they were fresh out of ideas..They decided to have lunch, and when they came back Ron Hellard got the title. He said it just popped into his head out of nowhere.. Probably a gift from above.. Sony knew they had something, and decided to expand on the natural element theme “I’m a friend of thunder, ..”lightning always strikes me”..“I’ll put this cloud behind me”, and so forth.
When the song finally made its way to Keith Whitley’s ears, he said it was like someone was reading his mail...Y’all, I believe nothing is a coincidence, and often there is a higher meaning or reason for things even if we don’t know what it is at the time.. What might have been the reasons Keith Whitley was so moved by the song, yet the writers initially felt no emotional connection to it? The latter is easier to answer. The song was not meant for the writers, it was meant for Keith.
What did Keith’s life look like well before “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”.. Well Keith literally was no stranger to the rain having lost a good friend while drinking moonshine, and racing in the mountains of Kentucky.. Twice Keith cheated the angel of death when he survived yet another car crash after going over a mountain edge. He escaped with a mere broken collar bone. That would not be the end to Keith’s sorrows. In 1983, shortly after moving to Nashville, Keith lost his brother in a motorcycle accident, and then his dad.
The songwriters say in retrospect, the song is about redemption. Ron Hellard recalls hearing the song 20 years later after the passing of his father. The song took on a new meaning to him as it has for so many fans. I think everyone wants to have a last hurrah, and leave a stated legacy. If you knew when your last day on planet earth was, wouldn't you want something that spoke to what you were all about? Think about it, your last truths told in a well written paragraph or in this case a song..
The way I’ve always viewed “I’m No Stranger To The Rain” is as Keith Whitley’s epitaph. The song provided a Reader’s Digest version of his life for us fans. His life was beautiful, and tragic, enduring, but hopeful.. “I’ll put this cloud behind me, that’s how the man designed me..” The promise of hope is an ongoing theme throughout the song. Keith recognizes that he had a hard knock life, and has come out winning in the long run..After all, life is a long distance race..
Posthumously, Keith in 1989, won his first CMA award Single of the Year for “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”.. The song went on to chart for 22 weeks, and was the first of three consecutive No.1s. Additionally, It was also the last of five singles released from Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” album. The song peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Country charts just mere weeks before Keith died. It was Keith’s first number one.
“I’m No Stranger To The Rain” holds an important lesson for us all. Given the current global socio-political climate, it really seems like the future is uncertain. Don’t miss this important lesson y’all. The song not only speaks to the promise of hope, but also to the gift of perseverance. “I fought w/ the devil, got down on his level, but I never gave in, so he gave up on me”…
No matter how tough things get, there will always be a tomorrow.. I think knowing that can help us look at tough situations from a different perspective. And that in turn can provide the focus, and fuel we need to forge forward. Life is perpetual motion, we do get to decide whether we’ll direct the perpetual motion forward in our own lives, even, if it is at a snail's pace.. The message is crystal clear, keep moving forward!
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