Tuesday, June 09, 2009

KENNY RANKIN (1940-2009) Here's That Rainy Day

Kenny Rankin swooped the planet two days ago, June 7, 2009. He was 69. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer three weeks ago. Far from retired, he had a concert scheduled for September 20, 2009 in Norfolk, CT at a venue called Infinity Hall.
As an artist, Rankin was adept at appealing to all types of music fans. He was George Carlin's opening act for years, and Johnny Carson wrote the liner notes for Kenny's 1967 debut album "Mind Dusters." Rankin covered folk, jazz and smooth rock in the early 70's and just as easily put out an album of standards ("The Kenny Rankin Album") in 1976 with Don Costa conducting a full orchestra. He was not only a talented singer and guitarist, he wrote some classic songs. "In the Name of Love" was covered by Peggy Lee and "Haven't We Met" was memorably recorded by Carmen McRae.
Kenny also covered songs so well that he earned praise from the original composers. On his fifth album, "Silver Morning" (1975) he offered an elegant jazz-folk rendition of "Blackbird." It was so memorable that a dozen years later, Paul McCartney asked him to perform it as part of a medley at a Songwriters Hall Of Fame ceremony honoring the works of Lennon-McCartney.
"Blackbird" is a song open to many interpretations. A favorite, is the concept of resurrection and rebirth...sunken eyes once again able to see, and broken wings once again able to fly. It is quite a fitting song, in contemplating a good man and the rewards of an afterlife.
And so is "Here's That Rainy Day," which was, oddly enough, a favorite of melancholy comedian Spike Milligan and talk show host Johnny Carson. The lyric speaks in a way of that day of reckoning...when the sunshine is just a memory.
Rankin's inspiration for a musical career did, after all, have its roots in a religious moment. He recalled, ""I was in the fourth grade and sang 'O Holy Night' in a Christmas play. My teacher, Miss Isabel Pringle, came over to me and patted me on the head and said 'Kenneth, that was lovely.' She set me on the path in music..."

KENNY RANKIN - Here's That Rainy Day
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