12/15/17: Melanie Safka “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”

Melanie Safka grew up in Queens, New York, as the daughter of a jazz singer and voracious listener of music from all eras. She even had some public performances as a child, like singing on a radio show called “Live Like a Millionaire” when she was only four years old! As a teenager, she started to really get into folk music, and started playing in some Greenwich Village coffeehouses. A lot of notable artists in the folk scene got their start that way, and Melanie – now going by just her first name professionally – managed to score the opportunity to play at Woodstock!

She was so touched by the experience of playing at night during a light rain – in front of thousands of people, most of whom were holding up matches and lighters – that she wrote a song called “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” about the whole Woodstock experience.

The song has a spirited, almost-gospel feel, and there’s a good reason for that. She’s backed by the world-famous Edwin Hawkins Singers, who were fresh off their own big hit “Oh, Happy Day!” when they helped out Melanie on this track. It was a popular song in the UK, Canada, Australia and the United States, and its break into the Top 10 is what suddenly made Melanie a star!

She had some other successful tunes, as well. The best-known of those was probably a kind of silly song called “Brand New Key,” otherwise known as “The Roller Skate Song.” It was banned from a lot of radio stations and homes because some folks thought it was full of sexual innuendo. Maybe it didn’t deserve to be banned, but those innuendos are definitely there. The song sold over 3 million copies, but it didn’t quite sound like anything else she did. Melanie also came out with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” but most of her songs were about peace, love and brotherhood. Melanie is very politically outspoken, and has called herself a “strong Libertarian” in the past. These days, she’s 71 years old and still performs now and then. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and for me… “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” will always be her signature song.

To read and listen to all of Ron’s Music in My Head entries, click here!


After playing a show at The Cat’s Cradle in July, at Local 506 in August, The Carrboro Music Festival in September; and The Southern Village Green in November,  the School of Rock students’ next BIG public LIVE performance will be Saturday January 6th at the Pittsboro Roadhouse.

At 1pm, its “Rock Goddesses” with Music from Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Janis Joplin and More. This is followed at 3pm with the songs of Led Zeppelin I and II. January 6th at the Pittsboro Roadhouse, put it on your calendar now!

The School of Rock Chapel Hill is a music school located in the 501 Diner location on Fordham Blvd in front of Eastgate, in the Blue Hill District!

Why should the kids have all of the rock and roll fun? The School of Rock Offers adult programs as well. It is never too late to learn how to rock!

Locally owned, locally operated, locally staffed, locally sourced instruments, and locally built!

You are invited to stop in for a tour or schedule a free demo session. Their hours are Monday-Thursday 3PM-9PM and Saturday 10AM-4PM!  

Learn how to play a real rock and roll song in just 30 minutes!

School of Rock Grand Opening

AND, through a partnership with the Public School Foundation; they’ll donate 1% of their gross revenue to support music in the local public schools, so help bring music to our community and enroll today!

Click Here to See Photos of the Grand Opening Celebration!

Sign-up at chapelhill.schoolofrock.com, or call 919-338-1011.


Open for Rocking!

‘Music in My Head’ airs every morning @9:15AM. Over the air on 97.9FM and streaming on chapelboro.com