Rick Danko + the All-Starr Band, “Raining in My Heart” (1990): Across the Great Divide

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In one of the most obvious signs of rebirth yet, Rick Danko joined his old Band mate Levon Helm as part of the very first All-Starr Band, a conglomeration of famous friends who toured with Ringo Starr in 1989. Danko and Helm had, of course, been working again as the Band for some years, but in a far more low-key manner. For many, their appearances with Starr — who, himself, was making something of a comeback after dealing with personal issues through most of the 1980s — worked as as a kind of post-Last Waltz reintroduction.

It also opened the door for a string of high-profile projects with Garth Hudson into the 1990s, as fans reacted in a visceral way to hearing “The Weight” sung by the voices who originally brought it to life. More interesting was the reaction to Rick Danko’s spotlight moment, an update of Buddy Holly’s “Raining in My Heart.” Seemingly an offbeat choice, the track had in fact become a signature part of Danko’s homey solo shows in intervening years. He clearly approached the lyric from a knowing, deeply personal place.

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“Raining in My Heart” is best known via an orchestra-laden Buddy Holly rendition from 1959, but this composition by Bouleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant has become well traveled over the years. Others who’ve covered the song include Status Quo, Connie Francis and Don McLean. (In a cool twist that couldn’t have been lost on Danko’s Beatle boss, Ringo Starr’s old band made a passing reference to “Raining in My Heart” as part of “Dear Prudence.”) Leo Sayer also had a minor hit with the tune in the late 1970s. By then, Rick Danko had started a solo career, and he’d already begun reshaping “Raining in My Heart” into something of his own.

As such, the song seemed to arrive as part of Starr’s 1989 shows like a thunderbolt of recollection, reminding sold-out crowds en masse of every earlier Rick Danko-sung triumph, from “Unfaithful Servant” to “Stage Fright” to “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever” to “It Makes No Difference.” Garth Hudson adds a few gorgeous flourishes on the accordion too, essentially making this a Band track with a few very special guests.

Across the Great Divide is a weekly, song-by-song examination from Something Else! on the legacy of the Band, both together and as solo artists. The series runs on Thursdays.

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