The Story Behind “No Rain” by Blind Melon

A hit, written by Blind Melon’s bass player during his LA funk.

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The Story Behind “No Rain” by Blind Melon
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"No Rain" is a song from the Blind Melon's eponymous debut album, released in 1992. This song was written by the bass player Brad Smith and became the band’s breakthrough single.

If you want to learn more about the gear, amps, notable covers, live performances, special techniques, tuning, and recommended lessons, read the UG Complete Guide to “No Rain” by Blind Melon.
Brad wrote this song before he formed the band. He had moved from Mississippi to Los Angeles, where he fell into a funk. At the time, Brad was dating a girl who was going through depression (she would sleep through sunny days and complain when it didn't rain), and for a while, he told himself that he was writing the song from her perspective. He later realized that he was also writing about it himself.

He explained:

"'No Rain' came from when I first moved to California, and I was playing songs on Venice Beach for change. I was having to come up with the material during the week after my construction job, and then I would get my guitar and go down to the beach and open up a guitar case. I'd play on the Venice Beach boardwalk for change, for enough money to pay for parking and chicken teriyaki. That was my weekend.

And it was inspired by just how tough it was in LA. I had bouts of depression and the whole, 'What am I doing out here? Am I going to go back to Mississippi? I'm never going back to Mississippi.' I would just fight it and stick to my guns. Like, 'I want to be a musician, I want to be out here in California. I don't want to go back home.' I had nobody out here. There was no family; I didn't know a soul out here at first.

So the song is about not being able to get out of bed and find excuses to face the day when you have really, in a way, nothing. It was like rock bottom. I wasn't even on drugs or drinking. It was just tough. It was just a tough point in my life. And the cool thing about that song, I think a lot of people do interpret those lyrics properly and can connect with it on that level, where "I don't understand why I sleep all day and I start to complain that there's no rain." It's just a line about, I'd rather it be raining so I can justify myself by laying in the bed and not doing anything. But it's a sunny day, so go out and face it.

So that's where the lyric and the song was inspired from, is just having to write songs. Then being in the state of mind I was in and having to come up with material to go play down on the beach for change. I played that song on the beach for change for over a year before Shannon Hoon actually joined the band and really made that song a hit. I think that was a good song, and Shannon made it a great song."

The song is the band's highest-charting song, reaching number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number-one on both the Album Rock Tracks and Modern Rock Tracks charts.

Official Music Video

The concept for the official video was inspired by the "Blind Melon" album cover, which features a 1975 photo of Georgia Graham, the younger sister of Blind Melon drummer Glenn Graham.

Heather DeLoach was the first to audition for the role of the bee girl, and because she resembled Graham's sister so much, director Samuel Bayer, who also directed "Smells Like Teen Spirit," chose her.

Heather DeLoach recalled to MTV News her audition for the bee girl:

They told me Sam didn't look at any other tapes. I went in with my hair in braids and wearing those chunky glasses because they said to look nerdy. My mom said we had to find some glasses before we went in, so we ran to a local mall right before the audition and bought them, and Sam liked them so much they're the same ones I used in the video.

Brad Smith recalled:

"At the time we were doing "No Rain," it was like, "This is great." But I felt this way about all the other videos. So you just never know. Sam Bayer was a killer director and shot an amazingly beautiful video that had a storyline in it, and people connected with that bee girl. We brought the bee girl to life that was on the front of the album cover."
The video made #22 on MTV's Greatest Videos Ever Made Countdown at the end of 1999.
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Guitars

Rogers Stevens

Rogers Stevens used his "Blind Melon" Strat for this recording. This guitar can be seen in the official video for the song.

He described the story behind this guitar:

"I bought the guitar in Hollywood in 1991 at a music store on Santa Monica Blvd. It was a new 1962 reissue model ... I'm assuming a late '80's model ... creamy yellow color with a rosewood board. I seem to remember the neck being on the chunky side — I've had Strats of the same make that felt somewhat slimmer. Overall, I'd say that guitar was a bit on the heavy side for my taste. I like Strats to be super-light.

Anyway, I recorded the entire first record with that guitar, but nothing beyond that. We were doing a festival gig in Europe (Glastonbury or Reading, I think) and the jack shorted out. I took the guitar and sort of "dropped" it by my amp because I couldn't find a stand nearby and there was quite a bit of adrenaline going at the moment. For reasons I will never understand, Shannon [Hoon] took this as an indication that I was entirely done with the guitar and would never pick it back up again. Perhaps in some antiquated common law scheme, one might say I no longer had possession of the guitar, so I must've surrendered ownership.

Whatever the case, Shannon immediately picked, smashed it, and threw it out into a crowd of about 300,000 drunken Englishmen. I wasn't really heartbroken, I guess ... there will always be other guitars out there. I've often wondered what happened to it and would be happy to buy it back. I suspect it's buried in the mud out there in that field…"

Christopher Thorn

Christopher Thorn plays the acoustic part of the song. He is seen using various Gibson acoustic guitars (notably J-45 and Hummingbird models) in the official video and during live performances.


Brad Smith

Brad Smith Brad used his Fender '69 Jazz Bass with EMG pickups.


If you want to learn more about the gear, amps, notable covers, live performances, special techniques, tuning, and recommended lessons, read the UG Complete Guide to “No Rain” by Blind Melon.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MessyNed
    I feel as though this band's success was overshadowed by this one song as they were dubbed "one hit wonders" but in reality they had SO MANY great tunes (Toes Across the floor, Change to name only a couple but their debut album is one of the best in history IMO, front-to-back!). They stood out from a lot of the grunge-era bands at the time because they had such a dynamic sound. Everything from rock, funk, country-like tones, soft to hard, they had it all! Thanks for this article UG. 
    GrooveSmash
    Yes indeed absolutely love this band! I would even go as far to say that I'm a hardcore fan boy lol.  Drove almost four hours to a tiny little town outside of Lafayette Indiana to see the grave site of Shannon Hoon. The cemetery is so small it probably sits on maybe 3/4 of an acre, we actually drove past it trying to locate it. It was a surprise trip for my fiance for our anniversary since we're both huge melon heads :p.  Ill actually post the pictures on my UG account if anyone is interested to see!
    GrooveSmash
    Pictures are up go check em out! hes located at Dayton Cemetery off Walnut St Lafayette, Indiana 47905 if anyone is close enough! I live in the Cincinnati area, but I'd travel from Australia to see him! RIP Shannon [h][/h]
    shackleford462
    Thanks for sharing those!
    GrooveSmash
    Anytime! It was definitely an amazing experience to feel that close to him. I was 5 years old when he died so of course I never got to see him live.  The man was a wonderful human being.
    Jazzmandtk
    That's awesome. What a talent. The fact he did backing vocals on GnR's "Don't Cry" speaks to his abilities
    richey2195
    Fender American Deluxe Jazz basses were introduced in 2004, making it impossible for Brad Smith to use.  Here's a direct quote from Bass Player magazine Jan/Feb 1994 issue that specifies the gear he used both live and in the studio during Blind Melon's heyday: "Brad used his '69 Jazz Bass with EMGs for the majority of the record, choosing to run it through a tube direct box and a '70s Ampeg SVT miked with an EV-PL20." 
    GrooveSmash
    Nice catch I've also seen a video where he switches back and forth between his jazz and what I believe is a Gibson EB-2 hollow body bass.  Specifically the intimate and interactive performance.  
    Eifler121
    No Rain was the song I played on the way home after I bought my first 6-string (I had already been playing bass for years, and I was sitting in the back of my mom's minivan.) Even as a little kid, born in '92, I knew the Bee Girl video, and I knew the song. I truly believe that the song is universal. Great songwriting can perfectly capture a feeling in plain language; combined with the snapping and main guitar lick, this song feels warm and like home. Change was eventually the first song I ever sang in front of an audience. I don't listen to Blind Melon regularly anymore, but they were huge to me when I first started playing acoustic; over a decade after Hoon's death.
    HugoPan
    their debut album is really awesome. love the live enviroment and how the guitars complement each other through every song
    Way Cool JR.
    I'm so glad I got to see Blind Melon live back in the day.  It's a shame they had to end the way they did, they were a fantastic band.   
    CosyNinja
    I think that song had the makings of becoming a hit, but I think what helped most was Shannon Hoon being childhood friends with Axl. If I remember correctly, they never even played live before being signed. I know that's not the point of the article, just sayin'.
    HarryParatestes
    yer right shannon did backups on dont cry by gnr its worth noting that shannons death affected axl quite a bit which explains a lot of his issues throughout the years
    yankmaddog
    The story is, this song was and always will be garbage!!!
    shackleford462
    Man, it stinks that you feel that way. Maybe the song is a little too poppy for you, but if you have the time, check out some of their other tunes.