Introducing: Roger Harvey’s “Raining In LA”

A new song from the PA-based singer-songwriter, plus an essay about its origins.

I landed in Los Angeles last December in what was the first rain after a long dry spell. As we pulled out of the airport and started heading towards Venice, a big rainbow filled the sky over the highway. I was in California to film a video for a song I hadn’t even recorded yet called “Twice As High.” My friend and filmmaker Autumn Spadaro said that it hadn’t rained in forever as we made our way to the coast in our rental Toyota pickup truck before heading out to explore the high desert in Joshua Tree that night. 

I’d been thinking a lot about the idea of desiring something different than what you have, the act of searching for something only to find yourself in a different place with a similar feel. At 32, I feel as if that experience is part of the fabric of being human.

It wasn’t until recently that I put together the feeling of the new songs I had been writing. The duality of this kind of rejection paired with an openness to change and the inevitable contemplation that comes along with it, whether it be in fear or in acceptance, it’s always right there. 

I’d recently hit a wall, or at least felt like I had. It was like I had been searching for something that at best was very difficult to find and at worst had never been there to begin with. Thinking back over the years in pursuit of a feeling, it didn’t occur to me that I was manifesting it into these songs at the time and truthfully, I still hear them about something so different. But at some point I noticed this thread. 

Writing songs has never felt like a choice for me, and I think many creative people experience that. My life has had two phases, the time before I wrote songs and the time after. It’s like once that expression was found it became both therapy and survival in one. I experience writing songs like many, as medicine. 

There is a nostalgia involved in a pursuit of the arts, the ways in which we all long for how something felt in the past — not necessarily how it was, but the way we remember experiencing it, or choose to. I think a sustained life in this requires an almost spiritual relationship with the past. A nostalgia for something experienced, in moments revisiting and elaborating on, is always carried with us. That, I think, is part of the magic of music. 

I wrote “Twice As High” about losing something you love abruptly and coming to terms with that loss, but also about the other side of that experience, realizing that you have the power to change in every instance. A power to stay and a power to run. That felt like my experience with music in that moment, like I had spent years following it and one morning woke up and it was gone. I kept searching, writing, and traveling, and started getting closer to what I identified as the central joy.

To me the central joy of making music takes many forms, but it manifests in those rare and fleeting moments. I like to believe that that’s what we’re all out here chasing as artists. It’s what makes powering through the bullshit and struggle of a creative life worthwhile. The moment when you finish a song, or even more when we gather together around song, whether it be to create or just be with it. It’s in those moments that I believe both the magic and central joy is best exemplified. 

“Raining In LA” is the most specific of my new songs, though they all share that thread. A song about that moment when you land in Los Angeles in the rain, a place where the sun is supposed to always shine, and find yourself wondering how you got so far from where you came from. That duality we carry with us in our constant search for clarity. I was lucky to see a rainbow. 

There’s been an empowerment in all of it, or at least that’s how I’ve chosen to experience it. It’s as if the closer I get to the center, the more the bullshit falls away. It seems the magic only exists when we let it. Letting it be that is what these songs are all about, and truthfully I’m just happy to still be out here.

Roger Harvey is a songwriter born and raised in rural Pennsylvania. His music calls to mind an earlier era of song-centered singers like Willie Nelson, John Prine, and Neil Young. Roger has spent much of his life traveling and playing music but has recently laid roots in Philadelphia.