Hill Country Rain

from by D. R. Commander

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A story about the epic flash floods along the Lower Guadalupe River in 1998 and 2002 and the people who continue to rebuild in the flood plain despite the danger. Influences: Gordon Lightfoot, Clint Black


"Hill Country Rain"
Words and Music by D. R. Commander
Copyright ©2008 Twelve-Foot Hedgehog Music (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.

It was a cold, gray morning in '98 when someone opened up Heaven's gate
Clouds began their dance over that sleepy German town
The sky fell down like a hurricane, dropping 4 inches an hour of rain,
Falling like a stone upon the ground

Before another hour had passed us by, the river rose to 40 feet high,
And houses floated down just like a leaf upon the breeze
22 feet above the plain didn't spare us all from the endless rain,
Once the river turned into a sea

No one ever thought it could happen here
With the dam upstream we had no fear,
But dams can't hold back water that beneath their shadow flows
It rose so fast as the rains came down that we barely made it to higher ground
With nothing but the children and our clothes

The storm moved on in time with the flood, pushing half the Mississippi's worth of mud,
Sweeping down through Cuero like a runaway freight train
A 20-foot wave covered half the town
They went 7 miles to find dry ground,
Stranded in the cold Hill Country rain

Hill Country rain is falling down into the canyons and the streams
Hill Country rain is going to drown all of our sweet American dreams
When the rivers start to fill, you'd better head up to the hills
'Cause only time can stop the cold Hill Country rain

Two old men said, back in '72, this place filled up like a swimming pool,
But we just smiled and shook our heads and looked the other way
Everybody thought they had bought the dream 'til they saw it floating away downstream
Underneath October skies of gray

I once knew a man down on Rio Drive
His wife didn't make it out of there alive
They climbed a 40-foot tree, until the river rose some more
He floated seven miles on a piece of wood, along with most of the neighborhood,
But eight of them never made it to the shore

There was never any doubt that we'd build again
We loved the water like a long-lost friend,
Though our friend would sometimes tend to fly into a rage
We built like a fortress against the tide, between the pecans on the riverside
We kept one eye on the sky and another on the gauge

Four years later, Fourth of July, the ground was cracked and three months dry
A record storm moved up the river, much to our relief
Everybody thought we were out of harm's way 'til the lake rose 50 feet in a day
The dam had done its job, but there was too much rain to keep

The water, it hit the spillway breach, and just like the waves crashing on the beach,
Three times the Mighty Colorado pouring down the hill
This had never happened since they built the lake, and some of the Corps thought the dam might break
The rains had fallen hard, but then the rains fell harder still

The lake came down with a mighty roar, then the river rose and then it rose some more
I turned on the TV to see my house float down the street
We had just rebuilt from the flood before when the Guadalupe knocked down our door
And came into our house just like a thief

Not many people remember that day, and there's millions more built in harm's way
Everything that we build, Nature one day will reclaim
But if every few years it happens again, then why do they call it the ”hundred-year plain"?
You can't blame it all on the cold Hill Country rain

[Double chorus]


from Seven Cities, released April 17, 2013
D. R. Commander (piano, vocals)
Graeme Francis (drums)
Aaron Goldfarb (guitars)
G. Pat Harris (bass)

Recorded at The Congress House Studio (engineer: Andre Moran)
Vocals recorded at The Zone Recording Studio, Dripping Springs, Texas (engineer: Mike Morgan)
Produced by D. R. Commander
Mixed by Pat Manske at The Zone Recording Studio, Dripping Springs, Texas
Mastered by Nick Landis at Terra Nova Digital Audio, Inc., Austin, Texas




D. R. Commander Austin, Texas

A self-taught pianist, D. R. Commander's approach to the instrument is somewhat non-traditional and is influenced as much by Earl Scruggs and Mark Knopfler as by Bruce Hornsby and Jackson Browne. His songs paint pictures of far-off, beautiful places inhabited by people who are different on the surface but whose lives intertwine in the same universal quest. ... more

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