The HawtThorns Seek Emotional Rejuvenation Through “Memphis Rain” Cover

When it rains, the cumulative downpour of drops likely looks all the same from a distance. Hone in on a few individual droplets amid the rest however, and how they look when hitting the ground might make some of the water really stand out among the rest, even though it’s all nearly identical.

This seems a suitable metaphor for the song that Johnny Hawthorn and KP of The HawtThorns recently decided to record together. Premiering today on American Songwriter, the musical couple arranged their own rendition of“Memphis Rain,” a song originally by singer-songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan. The likening of The HawtThorns’ take on Tasjan’s song isn’t just a matter of a water-related connection. It’s more so about the fact that despite Tasjan and The HawtThorns both writing in style of instrumentally light folk and Americana roots that sound similar from a glancing distance, Hawthorn and KP’s approach to shaping the song definitely gives the music an especially delicate touch that alters the melody’s overall impact and sets it apart from the one of the couple’s favorite artists at present – not extremely so but enough to stand distinctly on its own.

“Having recently relocated to Tennessee from sunny California, [Johnny and I] have been soaking in the soulful culture of the southern United States.” says KP Hawthorn. “Aaron Lee Tasjan is one of our favorite current songwriters [and] performers. [W]e thought this song was a perfect sentiment for how we and others are feeling these days. This track was recorded with just the two of us, two guitars and lots of harmonies piled up,” she says..

The fact that “Memphis Rain” itself references the unique beauty of individual drops of rain falling on unexpected objects doesn’t hurt the imagined visual of a rainstorm either.

Diamond drops are sparkling
On the zipper and chain
In the Memphis rain
In the Memphis rain

Please silver lining, my old friend

Come back around again
In the Memphis rain
In the Memphis rain

Beyond imaging things in one’s mind, the sonic illusion actually presented by the song creates the sense of a much more crowded mix and The HawtThorns’ ingenuity with a minimalist instrument set – just Hawthorn on lap steel guitar and KP on acoustic. Yet, the most delightful aspect of their layered approach is that the end result doesn’t sound hectic or overwhelm with volume. Each element of harmonized vocals laid atop the next creates a singular but intricate performance. The careful distinction of tonal balance and tonal differentiation brings to mind the image of a multi-layered collage made from several sheets of colored tissue paper all laid atop one to create one blend of complementary shades.


Ultimately, The HawtThorns make a solid case for why their take on “Memphis Rain” would be a pleasant, comforting song to listen to anytime. While “Memphis Rain” clearly wasn’t written specifically in reaction to current events, The HawtThorns definitely see potential for how the song could help foster some extra good thoughts and a way to focus on an eventual turn toward better times?

“The lyrics in [Aaron Lee Tasjan’s] song ‘Memphis Rain’ plead – Silver lining my old friend, come back around again ­– as if asking for better times and a little hope to come to the rescue,” says KP. “[Johnny and I] created the video for this track together during recent world events, hoping to invoke some positive vibes – walking through the neighborhoods in Memphis and on the riverfront,” she says.

While The HawtThorns have interpreted Tasjan’s song with an added layer of positivity, it never hurts to see an original artist reciprocate that kind of joy and that’s exactly what Tasjan did when he spoke about The HawtThorns’ performance.

“When another artist covers one of your songs it’s a wonderful feeling. I love what the HawtThorns did on their version of Memphis Rain. They made it their own in a beautiful way and it made me smile to think my song would get sung by talented artists like KP & Johnny.”

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