Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)

Album: Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) (1970)
Charted: 6
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Melanie (last name: Safka) performed in the rain at Woodstock on the first day of the festival (August 15, 1969). When the rain stopped, members of the crowd lit candles to let other people know that everything was "bright" (OK). Melanie was so moved by the sight that she wrote this song to commemorate it.
  • The Edwin Hawkins Singers backed Melanie on this track. They got a deal with Melanie's label Buddah Records in 1969 when "Oh Happy Day," recorded in church and sold as part of an album to raise money for the choir, started getting airplay on various radio stations. A gospel group, they brought a vibrant, spiritual feel to this song.
  • Regarding the song and the era in which it was written, Melanie told Songfacts: "There was, without getting into it, a strong force going against it, and who would want to look at that? The powers that be do not want a bunch of free happy beings running the planet, end of story, 'nuff said. But here it is, a literal visual of the world that was. Black and white harmony, unity and power. This WAS the world! The dream? You may say I'm a dreamer... candles in the rain."
  • Safka was pretty much unknown when she did the Woodstock show, so much so that her mother had to drive her to the festival from their home in Elberon, New Jersey. Her mother even tried to board the helicopter that took Melanie to the stage, but they couldn't fit her.

    Safka also had no idea how big Woodstock would be, and it took her a while to figure out that the horrendous traffic they encountered was coming from the show.

    "People really connected quickly with me and it instantly resonated with 500,000 people at that one moment," she said. "I walked on the stage an unknown person and walked off a celebrity."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 32

  • Ann from CaliforniaHmmm. When I was about 14 or 15 I was given "Leftover Wine" & "The Good Book", the latter being my favorite & there were only two songs on it that I wasn't so fond of so I didn't bother to figure out the chords. I was pretty into her music. Now the story I'd always heard was that "Lay Down" (which is just 10 secs. shy of 8 minutes on "The Four Sides of...") was either shortened - perhaps during a live performance - or destined to be shortened. Music editing can mean a hatchet job and should be left to the Musician IMHO.
    And what happened or was going to happen (but I think it DID happen) to "Lay Down" was the *very* *reason* that Melanie wrote "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma?" Hasn't anyone else heard this story?
  • Randall from Las VegasAccording to a recent biography on Melanie, the Edwin Hawkins Singers nearly backed out of this record because they wanted top billing.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 13th 1970, Melanie performed "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Just under a month later on July 5th, 1970 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart {See next post below}...
    Also on the same 'Bandstand' show she performed "Peace Will Come (According to Plan)"; on August 16th it debut on the Top 100 at #55, and on September 13th it reached #32 {for 2 weeks}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 8th 1970, Melanie performed "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" on the ABC-TV program 'The Everly Brothers Show'...
    Three days earlier on July 5th, 1970 it peaked at #6 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, it had entered the Top 100 on April 19th, 1970 and spent 17 weeks on the chart...
    Between 1970 and 1973 she had nine Top 100 records; two made the Top 10 with one reaching #1,"Brand New Key" for 3 weeks on December 19th, 1971...
    Melanie, born Melanie Anne Safka, will celebrate her 68th birthday this coming February 3rd, 2015.
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkI still love this amazing song & artist. This song was released in early 1970 & climbed the charts fast & stayed on the charts for months. I was in the US Army serving in Vietnam when I first heard Melanie's hit over AFVN radio. It had quite an impact on me & still does. The song's message seemed to be anti-war and spirituality. Both aspects made a direct hit on my mind & soul! As a Native American GI, one of the relatively few serving in Vietnam in 1969-70, I was in turmoil over my beliefs, my military commitments, & my tribal spirituality. These things were in conflict and were brought to the surface by this song. These many many decades later, I have changed and moved beyond war and chaos. This powerful song represents for me an awakening of my spirit and a personal move toward doing my small bit toward making this world a better place. Thanks, Melanie, for such a wonderful song-of-the-spirit!
  • Paul from Southern Pines, NcThis great Folk-Rock - Gospel Song,

    Was recorded in January 1970, and released in March 1970.

    It was in the U.S. Billboard Top 100 for 17 weeks, and reached a high of #3, before dropping out of the Top 100 in December 1970.

    Melanie played this song 'twice' at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

    Melanie came on stage Sunday Morning (August 29th) at 6:00 AM - in front of 600,000 plus festival go-ers.

    After playing this song (4th Song of her set), she received a standing ovation.

    After completing her regular set of (9 Songs) she received another standing ovation.

    For her 1st encore, she performed 'Lay Down' (Candles in the Rain) again, and received another standing ovation.

    She then performed another song (2nd Encore), and again received another standing ovation.

    It was the 'pinnacle' of her career.
  • Paul from Southern Pines, NcMelanie was a 'Small Club' Folk-Singer, hitting the small venue's in lower New York during 1967 and 1968 - and later she did a
    European Tour.

    Her 'earthy voice' gave her deep sound, and her pretty face and sexy eyes made he a 'natural' for Television close-ups and photographs.

    She struck a note in 1969 with the 'College Brainiacs', also known as the 'smart crowd'. When Woodstock Ventures put together their
    band list, Friday Night (Folk Singer's), Melanie was not considered for the Concert, because she was not well known outside of
    lower New York and France (of all places), and she only had a few songs in her catalog.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxSome could call her voice 'Earthy, raw and passionate.' Others, myself included, could call it squeaky, brassy and annoying.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhMarch 2010-Could there have been any other voice capable of bringing this song to life as well as Melanie's? Earthy, raw and passionate; her experience at Woodstock gave her everything she needed to draw upon to produce this amazing song. I was 12 years old when Lay Down was released, for some reason it resonated so strongly with me (while all my friends worshiped the Donnie Osmond type music)...Lay Down still has a stirring effect on me. Kimo, I agree with your post, especially the comment about Melanie channeling from above.
  • Kimo from Kaunakakai Hawaii, CaOne of the memorable recordings of the last half of the 20th Century. A simple lyric. A basic melody. Uncomplicated production. So why was it so effective? Melanie sings with truly moving vocal passion -- unlike anything this side of Janis Joplin. She is channeling from above. Add the gospel framework of the Edwin Hawkins Singers and a truly strong gospel piano accompaniment -- and, whaalaa, a hit for the ages.
  • Steve from Newport News, VaI've loved this song since I first heard it in 1970. The spoken track "Candles In The Rain" was the B-Side of the single. I always perceived the lyrics of "Lay Down" as a description of a sit-down protest blocking the entrance to a military base or weapons manufacturer. Laying close together to block vehicles from coming or going thus causing delay or aggravation to part of the war machine. Bleeding inside each other's wounds -- empathizing with the injuries, maimings, and deaths taking place in Vietnam. Raising candles high to be seen in the dark, the positive vibe so strong one believes that raising them might even stop the rain. Pick that interpretation apart as you will, I claim it only as my own. Everyone gets to take what they will from a work of art.
  • Randy from Houston, TxI think there is an element of protest in the song. After all, American soldiers were still dying in a war that many at Woodstock didn't believe in. My guess is that "lay down" is a call to lay down our arms and "white birds" is a symbol for peace. Beyond that, what I sense in the song is a profound understanding that what affects you affects me (when you bleed, I bleed too), and that when we show our solidarity for others who are experiencing something difficult (like fighting in a war), we have the opportunity to experience that sense of oneness with each other and in the process make a positive difference in the world. I feel a lot of love and courage in the song, and that's why it still speaks to me after all these years.
  • Edward Howlett from Magnolia, DeOne of the most powerful songs ever written. Sure the singing and lyrics are terrific, but the bass player carries this song with excellent bass riffs. This is something you listen to over and over at a very loud volume. Since today is Father's Day, I sent a copy of this song to my son as a gift to him. It has been a song that always has a positive effect on me. It inspires me that people can get together and make a sound like this!
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe version with the "little sisters of the sun" spoken intro is on the vinyl album "Candles in the Rain" USA LP: Buddah BDS 5060. You should be able to find this on ebay and other places.
  • Rodney from York, PaI was born in 1971 and love this song. I wish music today in 2009 had this passion (or for that the youth movement). That is why some music and political fans go back to prior generations for guidance.
  • Tracey from Margaretville,First heard this song when I was only 9 years old, but it started with the poem little sisters of the sun, it had a profound effect on me then and does still after almost 40 years!
  • Linc from Beaumont, TxVinyl is very organic - something lacking in digital music - sometimes music doesn't need to be crystal clear...
  • Nicholas from Sydney, AustraliaFor me personally, one of the greatest songs ever. The long version is on "Melanie's Greatest Hits". It sounds a million times better on vinyl, which has a warmer sound.
  • Don from Indianapolis, InYes...one of the most powerful and moving songs of all time...But I have GOT to find the LONG version...I'm on a mission to do so!
  • Richard from Talladega, AlI didn't particularly like this song when it came out, but came to appreciate it over the years. Now it gives me chills when I hear it. She also released a great single a few years later in 1973, a rocking but more obscure song "Bitter Bad".
  • Whozis from Greenup, KyThere was an element of anti-war protest/peace advocacy to the entire Woodstock event. As one who lived through the Viet Nam War era, to me it was a pro-peace, anti-war song. I was never a hippie, but in my religious convictions, I am a pacifist.

    Her song that I like even more than this one is "Peace Will Come". I am playing it in the background as I write this.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis song is number six on my all-time list. Yes, it is very pretty. (So, for that matter, was Melanie.) But I have to disagree with Sarah from the Middle of Nowhere on one point. While I agree that this is not a protest song, I don't find it depressing at all. (Then again, if something's really good, I don't find it depressing.) Those lines--"We bled inside each other's wounds/We all had caught the same disease/And we all sang songs of peace"--are very strong and powerful, and thus very empowering. To me, "We bled inside each other's wounds" is as good a description of a very intuitive sort of understanding, possibly of love. It's a great description of something that happened to me this week. I had my first real conversation with a woman I've seen practically every day for the past two years. That conversation ended with the sort of hug that transcends the physical: Each of us understood how the other had bled, so to speak, even though in the course of that conversation we had time only to talk about a couple of the things each of us had survived. In other words, our spirits connected in some way. I think that is the sort of thing Melanie was singing about. Now, if you want to deride the "prettiness" of the song, try to remember that messages aren't always best delivered with a smirk or with attempts at "irony" or through darkness. After all, if there's darkness, don't you need a candle, or some source of light, to see what's around you?
  • Sara Mackenzie from Middle Of Nowhere, Flcheck out the "best of melanie" cd, dunno if they still sell it. my sister got it on cd. it DOES have the long version of "lay down" so does youtube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zz9sjMGUM9k

    plus, read the lyrics. this is NOT a proest song, this is depressing, but pretty. "we were so close, there was no room...we bled inside each others' wounds...we all had caught the same disease"? come on, tell me that's not depressing! =^_^=
  • Ezra from Rio, TxDoes any one know where I can get the CD with the LONG version? It starts out with the "Little Sisters of the Sun" poem and then goes on to the song. It---song WITH poem-- is not on BEST of Melanie
  • Chris from Mount Prospect, Il"What Have They Done to My Song Ma" was on Melanie's third album "Candles In The Rain" which also obviously had "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" on it, so it couldn't have been the song that got Melanie her Woodstock gig. Prior to Woodstock, Melanie had only released one album, "Born To Be" from which the single was "Bobo's Party" which didn't chart. Two months after Woodstock, Melanie's second album "Melanie" was released featuring "Beautiful People", so she was probably performing it around the time of Woodstock.
  • Francesco from Bari, ItalyIn 1970 I was twenty and walking around in Amsterdam Holland I could listen in the air everywere in the streets the voice of Melanie singing ' Lay down' that made me feel very deep sensations. Candels in the rain seemed to be to me as the soundtrack of the city, and I was blowing my mind with fantasies beliving that all things were going on to right way, and I think I was right! . . . ciao to everybody: beautifull site.
  • Ezra from Rio, Txlittle sisters of the sun lit candles in the rain
    fed the world on oats and raisins
    candles in the rain
    lit the fire to the soul that never knew its friend candles in the rain
    to be there is to remember, candles in the rain so lay it down,lay it down, lay it down again
    Meher Baba lives again candles in the rain
    men can live as brothers
    candles in the rain
  • Kim from Lafayette, InWhile I was in Korea I heard more of this. There was a spoken lead in.

    I can't remember it and haven't been able to find any reference to it.

    All I can remember was that the spoken part ended with something like "come on sisters...".

    Does anyone else remember it?
  • Julian from Minneapolis, MnThirty-six years later, we're still trying to keep the dark away. An amazing song, still moving, still relevant.
  • George from Richmond, VaLoved this war protest song!
  • Ellen from Spring Mountain, PaI never knew this about "Candles in the Rain", and I am SO glad I found out! I knew that it incorporated a gathering of beautiful souls, but this is a great fact for me to file into my love of Melanie and her music!
  • Alan from City, MiMelanie appeared on the Woodstock II album. She later had a top-10 hit with "Brand New Key" and a minor hit with "Beautiful People."
see more comments

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"They're Playing My Song

The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Todd RundgrenSongwriter Interviews

Todd Rundgren explains why he avoids "Hello It's Me," and what it was like producing Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album.

Philip CodySongwriter Interviews

A talented lyricist, Philip helped revive Neil Sedaka's career with the words to "Laughter In The Rain" and "Bad Blood."

LecraeSongwriter Interviews

The Christian rapper talks about where his trip to Haiti and his history of addiction fit into his songs.

Crystal WatersSongwriter Interviews

Waters tells the "Gypsy Woman" story, shares some of her songwriting insights, and explains how Dennis Rodman ended up on one of her songs.