It started as a wedding present for her friends: a ballad about enduring love through thick and thin. After four years, Maggie Clifford’s song is a statement about community support and mutual care.
The Gaineville-based folk singer-songwriter released “Come the Rain”, his debut single under Spirit House Records on June 14.
The lyrics paint a picture of the wedding ceremony, which took place on a harsh, dry day softened by the arrival of rain and split light streaming into the venue in Savannah, Georgia. .
The lyrics to “Come the Rain” explore themes of long-term faithfulness and solving problems with compassion in honor of the couple’s 10 years together.
Infused with Celtic elements and an aspect of medieval storytelling, the tune feels like a folk tale passed down from generation to generation; it is a mystical display of devotion to remember in difficult times.
Triangles and tambourines, harmonizing bamboo flutes and solo guitar producer Bob McPeek described as “Celtic tango” all blend together in a track that deftly reflects the months of endless effort behind it.
Clifford brought a demo, consisting only of vocals and minimal instrumentation, to McPeek’s studio at Heartwood Soundstage in the summer of 2018.
Even after working on around 10,000 songs in his lifetime, McPeek said “Come the Rain” was his favorite. The pair worked the track for three years while balancing Clifford’s trips between Washington D.C. and Gainesville and McPeek’s battle with throat cancer; music served them as a balm to cure everything.
“Music is kind of my religion, I guess,” McPeek said. “So working on music, creating music, writing music, performing music, all of that is incredibly beneficial and healing for me. It reaches deep inside that mysterious part of our internal lives of who we are and what it means to be alive.
Clifford found this holy community in 2009 when she toured with fellow singer-songwriter Kat Wright under the folk duo Loveful Heights. The two have sung together since childhood, but touring has brought them even closer.
Yet after realizing the industry cycle: promoting access control, rewarding “influence hunting,” she struggled to rediscover that connection.
Clifford took a break from the commercial music world and, pregnant with her first child, began to focus on building a life. A few years later, she found herself in a silent meditation retreat in the Brazilian nature.
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She sang intimate lullabies to fellow attendees, a liberating expression of community after weeks of quiet gathering with the group and months of silent navigation in the foreign-speaking country.
The next morning a woman sleeping in the bunk below hers, one of the few retired English speakers, asked Clifford if she could write music for his film.
That woman turned out to be filmmaker Petra Costa, who was working on her acclaimed 2012 documentary “Elena,” based on the life of actress Elena Andrade, her older sister.
“I had no idea who she was, but she asked me so sincerely,” Clifford said. “She allowed and encouraged me to set my own terms every step of the way.”
Costa’s team helped upload Clifford’s music to streaming services, which she had no intention of doing.
“I had already said goodbye to that,” Clifford said.
Years after the success of the film, which won Best Documentary at the 45th Brasilia National Film Festival, Clifford’s music has found new life.
Algorithmic compatibility has revived tracks she recorded and released years before. Streaming platforms — as well as editorial and user-created playlists — picked up his songs. With increased exposure, Clifford has amassed nearly 44,000 monthly listeners on Spotify to date.
The keywords yoga, meditation, and healing come up repeatedly in these playlists. This unexpected push allowed Clifford to find a new face for what the music industry might look like.
Away from music, Clifford began pursuing a doctorate. focusing on climate communications from American University in Washington, D.C. With two children at home, she initially resisted the challenge of balancing motherhood, academia, and music.
“I had to profoundly recognize the mathematical impossibility of doing these three categories of things,” she said.
Despite her lingering reservations about the music industry, she continued to perform on Gainesville stages and cultivate her creative process.
After recording “Come the Rain”, she contacted Brandon Telg, manager of Spirit House Records and frontman of MusicGNV, to release the track under the label.
She saw how Telg helped uplift and support artists, and she said her label was a healthy, grown-up approach to the industry that she had previously abandoned.
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Kristine Villarroel is a second-year journalism student at the University of Florida and an editor at the Avenue. In her spare time, you can usually find her making playlists or talking about the full moon.