Calling back to the classic Bakersfield sound, Victoria Bailey wowed with her songwriting on 2020’s Jesus, Red Wine & Patsy Cline. Now, the singer-songwriter offers her take on Randy Newman’s “Rider in the Rain”. The song has gone on to carry a life of its own, somewhere in the nebulous space between great country parody and great country music. The notoriously satirical Newman has gone on to call the song “ridiculous” himself (per John Tobler’s NME Rock’N’Roll Years), but his wistful delivery and illustrious Eagles backing vocals ultimately make for an iconic cowboy tune.
Bailey’s take ups the tempo, swaps genders, and shucks its rougher lyrical edges. She herself is the titular “rider in the rain” and sells her story with passion. Her interpretation is an old-school country production reminiscent of Susan Raye, driven by her warm, nostalgic croon. She’s backed up by an impressive band, too. At times, they veer into riffs on ragtime or Western swing, always keeping Bailey front-and-center as their lead cowgirl.
Victoria Bailey’s “Rider in the Rain” features Eric Roebuck (lead guitar) Jeremy Long (pedal steel), Jeff Livingstone (bass), Phil Glen (keys), Tim Hill (drums), Kalina & Kiana (background vocals), and Jonny Bell, who engineered, mixed, and mastered the track. It is now available to pre-save or pre-order.
In anticipation of “Rider in the Rain” and future plans, Bailey partook in a quick Q&A with PopMatters.
What made you decide to cover this song? What about this song spoke to you?
The first time I heard “Rider in the Rain” off Randy Newman’s Little Criminals album, I felt so attached to it. I feel like it paints such a beautiful picture of a cowboy’s heart, of finding peace and grace in a simple life, and of the desire to travel and see the world’s beauty saddled up on his horse. I feel a lot of peace with this song, and I knew instantly that I wanted to bring this one to my band to record and to make it our own.
Are you a Randy Newman fan? What do you like about his music?
I have so much love and respect for Randy Newman. I think he is such a universally loved and respected human and musician for good reason. He’s had such an impact on my songs, and growing up with him soundtracking some of my favorite childhood movies is something I hold near and dear to my heart.
What did you do to make this song your own — both in your performance of it and in the music itself?
It was an honor to have two of my close girlfriends, Kalina and Kiana, emulate the legendary Eagles’ background vocal harmonies for the recording, and to have my friend, Philip Glen, play keys. My whole band really made this one special, and it is honestly one of my favorite projects so far. All of my bandmates really emulate and pay such a beautiful homage to how this track originally sounds and what it represents.
What was the recording session like? Did the result end up being exactly what you imagined it might be?
It was honestly such a beautiful experience. I had really close friends play the instrumentals on this track, who are all equally Newman fans. I can never fully anticipate how recording sessions will go. But I can say that going in to record a cover song that means so much to me is always something special and a very specific feeling. It’s a real honor to record something one of your heroes created, and to be in a room full of people who really love and respect Newman made it that much better.
What’s up next for you?
Covering this song honestly blossomed into a lot of inspiration for what I am releasing next. This cover, as well as my single I released in the fall, “Queen of the Rodeo”, will definitely be a part of what’s to come in 2022!