Melanie (Ft. The Edwin Hawkins Singers) – “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Melanie’s “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” is a tribute to the spirit of unity and the Woodstock generation. The song describes an event where people, despite differences, came together for peace, singing in unison. The “white birds” symbolize peace, and the recurring chorus of “lay it all down” is a call to set aside differences and embrace unity. The candles represent hope and the need to shine light in times of darkness. Melanie wrote this song inspired by her experience at Woodstock, one of the largest peace gatherings in history.

Curious to know the intricate layers behind these lyrics? Stick around, we’re diving deep!

“Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” Lyrics Meaning

“Lay down, lay down, lay it all down…” opens the song with a clear message: surrender. But what are we surrendering? Differences, grievances, prejudices. The “white birds” are symbols of peace and innocence, contrasting with those “who stand and frown” – individuals resistant to unity and change.

“We were so close, there was no room…” paints a vivid image of people so tightly united, almost merging into one. Their shared pain and suffering are evident in “we bled inside each other’s wounds.” The “same disease” they caught? A deep longing for change and peace. Their answer? They “sang the songs of peace.”

“So, raise the candles high…” is a compelling call to action. Candles symbolize hope and light in the darkest times. By raising them high, Melanie asks us to elevate our hopes, aspirations, and intentions. The urgency of “if you don’t, we could stay black against the sky” indicates the grave consequence of losing hope, while staying “dry against the rain” emphasizes the protection hope offers against life’s challenges.

“Some came to sing, some came to pray…” further elaborates on the diversity of those who gathered. Regardless of their means of expression, their goal was the same: “to keep the dark away.”

The repeated chorus reinforces the song’s message of unity, peace, and the importance of laying down our burdens.

The Story Behind “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”

The background of this song is intrinsically tied to an event that marked a generation: Woodstock. Melanie Safka, better known as Melanie performed at the festival in 1969. Woodstock wasn’t just about music; it was a powerful manifestation of the peace movement, and it was profoundly moving for Melanie.

Witnessing nearly half a million people, gathered in the spirit of harmony inspired her. It was the coming together of different souls – the artists, the listeners, the believers, the activists. Despite the rain, mud, and other challenges, there was a spirit of unity.

This intense experience led Melanie to pen down “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” The state of her mind at the time was awe-struck, hopeful, and inspired. The song encapsulates her feelings and her reflections on the event, echoing the larger sentiment of unity, peace, and hope of the Woodstock generation.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ contribution to the song added depth and richness. Their gospel background provided an echoing chorus, enhancing the spiritual undertones of the lyrics. This fusion of Melanie’s folk roots with gospel turned the song into an anthem for peace and unity.

For many, this song isn’t just a throwback to Woodstock but a timeless message that resonates even today. Amid societal chaos, political tensions, or personal struggles, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” reminds us of the strength found in unity and the transformative power of collective hope.

Melanie didn’t just recount an event; she captured an era’s spirit and immortalized it in a song that inspires us to lay down our differences and embrace unity. With each listen, one can almost feel the rain, see the candles, and, most importantly, experience the call to come together.