Friday, April 9, 2010

The April Shower Variations

April showers today. Not a March flood-maker. This is the good rain, the rain people sing about. Al Jolson introduced the song on Broadway in 1921 (a pre-Depression cheer-up song!), and since then everyone from Judy Garland to Spike Jones and his City Slickers has taken a whack at it:

Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.
So if it's raining, have no regrets
Because it isn't raining rain, you know (it's raining violets).

I wouldn't go that far. If anything, it's raining opportunity for violets. Or you could plausibly say that it's "raining green florets." Anyway, I get it. There's a ton of rain in April, so make the best of it. But at the same time, it's not that hard to do. April is the remorse-proof background for rain. You walk under an umbrella past a kind of fashion show. Trees and bushes that make their own spring light. Green leaf light. White blossom light. Yellow forsythia light. And in the foreground we have Rain, the enabler, enhancer (wet leaf light), and brooding impresario, who plays himself in the opera Aprile Acquazzoni, "The April Downpours." Who can forget that brimming duet between the Tree and Rain:

—I rain upon you without surcease!
—Yet mar my greenness you cannot.
—Ho! All your florets you will lose!
—For this eventuality I am prepared.
—Bah! Your foliage concerns me not. It's for your roots I fall!
—(Aria) You fall for my roots!/For your roots I fall.

Pretty terrible opera, actually. It makes the song sound good. You could even do better singing Chaucer's Prologue to the tune of "April Showers":

Oh, whan that A-prille
With his shoures soote
The drought of March hath,
Hath percéd to the roote

And bathéd ev'ry...
Vein in swiche licour
Of which vertu, I said...of which vertu...en-gen-dréd is the flour...

Well, anyway, what more is there to say? That it's amazing in the first place that water should fall out of the sky, millions and millions of drops...
Dummy: You counted them all?
Ventriloquist: No, of course not.
D: So how do you know how many drops there are?
V: Don't be a smart guy.
D: Why? The position's open. (Laughter)
V: Never mind. I hope you learned something today. Like why "April Showers"—
D: Because if she didn't, she'd be doity! (Laughter)
V: —why "April Showers" is so popular.
D: Well, I dunno. Is she cute? Just kidding. It's because April showers bring May flowers.
V: Very good.
D: And Mayflowers bring Pilgrims. And Pilgrims bring funny-looking hats with buckles.
V: Thank you.
D: And hats with buckles bring snickers from Indians. Snickers bring pimples. Pimples bring grief.
V: That's enough.
D: Grief brings eulogies. Eulogies bring Al Jolson. And Jolson brings "April Showers"!
V: Are you finished?
D: Not up to me, pal.
V: We're both finished. (Takes a bow. Applause. "April Showers" theme up and out.)

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