Can You Stand the Rain

Album: Heart Break (1988)
Charted: 44
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Songfacts®:

  • This ballad about weathering the storms in a relationship was written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who previously worked with New Edition on the song "Helplessly In Love" for the 1987 movie Dragnet, starring Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd.

    Bobby Brown left the group in 1986 and "Can't Stand the Rain" was carefully crafted to prove that newcomer Johnny Gill was worthy as his replacement. Jimmy Jam explained: "We wanted to have a song that introduced Johnny Gill as part of the New Edition, and then have Ralph [Tresvant], who was the familiar voice, take the song home, and also use Ricky [Bell], who at the time hadn't done a lot of lead vocals. We even used Michael Bivins on a little piece where he says, 'Come on baby, let's go get wet.' So we tried to utilize all the guys in the group and introduce Johnny Gill. We wanted to have a song in the mode of the Stylistics' 'You Make Me Feel Brand New,' where the low voice comes in and then the high voice takes over."
  • This reached #1 on the R&B chart, making it clear that fans were willing to accept Gill as part of New Edition.
  • The lyrics were inspired by the group's life on the road and the problems it caused in their relationships. Jam explained: "They're always on tour and a lot of them are leaving women behind when they go on tour and a lot of times they would talk about how hard it was and how women don't trust them... In Minneapolis we're familiar with weather. We have snow storms and we made an analogy to weather, 'Sunny days, everybody loves them, but can you stand the rain?' - Can you stand it when I'm not around?"
  • This marked an early appearance of a Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis hallmark: the "nay-whoooo" vocalization, which Johnny Gill sings before going into the first verse. It also appears on the Boyz II Men hit "On Bended Knee." Jimmy Jam would sing the demos, making sure the artist knew to do that part.
  • This was used in the 2013 dramedy The Best Man Holiday, starring Taye Diggs, Monica Calhoun, Terrence Howard, and Nia Long.
  • In 1989, a then-unknown Boyz II Men sneaked backstage at a New Edition concert and impressed Michael Bivens with an a cappella rendition of this song (a story told in the song "Motownphilly"). As a result, Bivens helped them get signed to Motown records.

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