Singled Out: John Vento's Rainbows & Lightning

John Vento

John Vento shared the story behind his song "Rainbows & Lightning" which comes from his recently released album "Love, Lust & Other Wreckage." Here is the story:

"Rainbows & Lightning" is a song that experienced several storms before it saw its first rainbow. The first version of the song, "Methane", was about fracking. It later became "Carnal Caravan", which was being considered to be a part of the album "Love, Lust & Other Wreckage," which is an almost all true autobiographical story of my relationships, and how they were effected by my first love... the stage.

"Rainbows & Lightning" was written after recording most of the other songs for the album. I realized there was a hole in my story that needed to be filled. We needed a song about realizing that many mistakes were made in relationships in the past, and now it was time to search for the
perfect love. While looking around to see what love looks like from afar, I was surprised to find love once again.

After asking Cherylann Hawk, who had been a part of the project for about 6 months at that point, to try to come up with a different melody for "Carnal Caravan", we decided the lyrics just didn't fit the project, but the music was worth salvaging. So, we decided to fill in the gap in my story by writing new lyrics to that music.

The creative juices began to flow after I told Cherylann about a line from an interior designer friend of mine that I thought might be good for a song lyric...

"Pictures of pictures, and pictures of frames" became the opening lyric of the song. We started thinking about looking for love through the lens of a camera while sitting on a park bench, so Cherylann Googled "looking for love on a park bench". A scene from "Good Will Hunting" came up. It was quite a philosophical conversation that at one point addressed love, and how reading about love or looking at it from afar is like looking at pictures of the paintings in the Sistine Chapel. It's not the same as being there in the chapel, seeing those paintings and breathing it all in.

After writing some lyrics inspired by that park bench soliloquy, the song was called Sistine Chapel. There was a lyric, "the Sistine Chapel wasn't done in one day." This was followed by a lyric about "The Fall of Man," one of the paintings in the chapel, but it turned into "as being there and seeing how hard I fell" (instead of "how Adam fell"). There was also talk in that movie scene about how love feels "like God put an angel on earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell..." This reminded Cherylann of the story she learned in Art History class in college... Michaelangelo painted himself into the Pergatory portion of the painting on the wall behind the alter, "The Last Judgement", as skin hanging on a post, depicting himself as Saint Bartholomew after he had been flayed (skinned alive). Yes "Catching my breath between Heaven and Hell" describes how some people may feel when they hear that story, and how many people feel on the journey of experiencing love, losing it, then finding it again.

The Sistine Chapel line is what later became "rainbows and lightning between me and you".

On a songwriting trip we took up 28 North to finish this song, we saw a rainbow during a light sprinkling, which was followed by a storm with lots of lightning. This was unusual because we often see rainbows afterstorms, not before. During the lightning part of the storm, we looked up photos of rainbows and lightning to see if anyone had captured them both happening at the same time. We did find a few spectacular photographs.

Our first draft of R&L was pretty much all rainbows, but playwright Amy Hartman said that we needed some "wreckage" on the CD to make it into a more interesting stage play. (Until then, the album was going to be called "Follow Your Heart.") After David Granati did some studio magic and brewed up an entirely different energy for the ending, the lyrics seemed to flow with ease from the depths of the wreckage of my past. Together, we created the perfect storm.

Many relationships that begin with rainbows do indeed end up experiencing some stormy weather. If we're lucky, and we persevere, we see rainbows again after each storm has ended.

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!

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