On the face of it, it seems highly unusual that a solo Beatle would feel himself qualified to tell others how to live a happy and peaceful life. Anyone who knows anything about the Beatles and their solo careers knows that the Beatles, for all of their talk about peace and love, were people with a high degree of conflict in their personal lives. This conflict included, most notably, their conflicts with each other, their marriage dramas thanks to infidelity, and in the case of John Lennon, a great deal of physical violence directed against others. It is a truism that is no less true for being so commonly voiced that it is the example rather than the message of people that people will pay attention to. So, in discussing the song “Too Much Rain” and the advice by former Beatle Paul McCartney to his then wife, Heather Mills, we must state at the outset that he was perhaps not the best person qualified to give this advice, given that his own life was not as peaceful as it could have been, filled with lineup turmoil in Wings and bitter lawsuits against his former bandmates in the Beatles, so say nothing of his occasional legal trouble thanks to his pot use and the violence he had to face in Lagos while recording “Band On The Run,” where he was robbed at knifepoint and accused by local musicians of trying to steal their sound.
Nevertheless, just because someone is not the best or most qualified person to give advice does not mean that the advice lacks merit. In this particular case, “Too Much Rain” is a song that is structured with three verses and a coda. The chorus of the first two verses of this driving piano ballad go “It’s not right, in one life / Too much rain,” as the singer-songwriter tells Heather Mills that her life has been filled with too much rain and that a lot has happened that is not right. This is not an uncommon problem. There are certainly people who have a deep well of sorrow and bitterness from their life experiences. Heather Mills, an amputee with a checkered life history and a very difficult family background, would qualify as someone who had too much rain in her life, and while McCartney seems to have enjoyed thinking of himself as a White Knight bringing happiness and joy into a dark life, it seems that, as is frequently the case, he found it frustrating that even with love and wealth, his Jenny Wren did not appear to respond with happiness and a sunnier disposition and a greater degree of contentment.
The third verse offers what appears to be a call for self-help on the part of Mills. At some point one needs to have a mindset that allows one to recognize and appreciate and enjoy the good in life. The call seems to be a bit of an ultimatum, as Mills ended up having too much rain and the two had an ugly divorce that brought a great deal of embarrassment to both parties. If Paul McCartney might could use his own advice on how to have a happy and peaceful life by learning to laugh, it is worthwhile to want a happy and peaceful life and to take the steps necessary to make sure that one is not driving the drama that makes one’s own life frustrating and difficult. This is, of course, far easier said than done. Still, it is well worth doing, and the first step to having a peaceful life is to want it, to consider it as possible, and to take responsibility for living in such a way that happiness and peace can result from one’s actions. This means, of course, refraining from those things that bring unhappiness and conflict into one’s life by wronging others, it must be admitted.
It seems harsh advice to tell people whose lives have been filled with great suffering that they are responsible for their own happiness. One of the chief appeals of the contemporary penchant for people to consider themselves for one reason or another to be the victims of a cruel and unjust existence is precisely to avoid the responsibility for happiness and peace that one does not have in one’s life. Alas, it is not our circumstances that create our happiness. We can be wealthy and have good people in our lives and be bored because they do not provide us with enough novelty to escape the demons inside, or we can appreciate the homey and the familiar and be content wherever we happen to find ourselves, to seek that which can be enjoyed and appreciated even in the most austere circumstances, and to act in ways that will best preserve our health, and our loving relationships, and our well-being. Sadly, sometimes that is not an easy thing for us to manage.