This week’s Song Lyric Sunday is all about the weather with song prompts of Breeze/Cloud/Sky/Wind.
I had several songs in mind, including one of my favorite R.E.M. songs, Wendell Gee. But one song stood out in my mind as being perfect for this week’s prompt. So I am going with Windsong by John Denver.
John Denver (born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.) was an American folk singer-songwriter. He was born in December, 1943. John had traveled the country in his youth with his military family. His father was Lt. Col. Henry John Deutschedorf, Sr., a USAF pilot stationed out of Roswell, NM. John described his father as very strict, and John became quite introverted due to the constant moving around as a military family. By his third year in high school, when he was in Texas, he took his father’s car and drove off to California make music. But his father borrowed a friend’s jet and John reluctantly returned to finish his schooling.
After graduation, John attended Texas Tech to study architecture, but he dropped out in 1963. During his time in college, however, he joined several singing groups, including The Mitchell Trio where he replaced the founder, Chad Mitchell. By 1969, John had enough of the band life and began to pursue his solo career. It did not take John long to establish himself and by 1974 he was one of America’s best selling performers.
Of the approximately 300 songs John released during his career, he wrote 200 of them. Most of his songs were written about his love for nature, his love for music and his relationship issues. The state of Colorado adopted one of John’s songs “Rocky Mountain High” as one of its state songs. And, close to home for me, the Orioles (baseball team) always plays “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the 7th inning stretch (after the obligatory “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”).
In addition to his music, John was a political activist and humanitarian. He was one of the founders of The Windstar Foundation that protected 1000 acres in Snowmass, Colorado for sustainable living, as well as The Hunger Project, and was extremely active in other sustainability and conservation projects.
John’s life was cut short in October, 1997, at the age of 53, when John, an avid and skilled pilot, crashed his amateur-built lightweight Rutan Long-EZ aircraft in Monterey Bay. At the time of the crash, John was not legally allowed to pilot a plane due to having his medical card revokes as a result of some trouble with alcohol. However, he was found to be clean of drugs and alcohol at the time of the crash. The cause of the fatal crash was deemed to be a fueling error where John could not reach the lever to switch the tanks and the gauges were not visible to him from where he was sitting. He failed to refuel during one of his many take-off/landing practices.
As for the creation of the song, Windsong, John was very well known for his songs about nature and all of its beauty. Windsong was co-written with his friend, Joe Henry, and in an interview, John simply said that “We sat up one night and talked about the wind. Joe and I wanted to write a song about the wind and we talked and talked… The song was written out on a piece of paper on the kitchen table”. (Quote courtesy of American Songwriter magazine, Deborah Evans Price, 1997). Windsong was released in September, 1975, and is off the album by the same name.
Not wanting to leave this blog without how this particular song affects me personally, I can say that although I am a huge fan of John Denver and have been since I was a child, this particular song is one of my favorites (I’m Sorry being the other favorite). I have always loved the wind and the power it brings with it. It has the ability to gently caress your face or destroy its surroundings. It can be warm and inviting or cut through you like a knife. It is always there and always changing. I love that this song dedicates itself to the power of the wind.
The wind is the whisper of our mother the earth
The wind is the hand of our father the sky
The wind watches over our struggles and pleasures
The wind is the goddess who first learned to fly
The wind is the bearer of bad and good tidings
The weaver of darkness, the bringer of dawn
The wind gives the rain, then builds us a rainbow
The wind is the singer when sang the first song
The wind is a twister of anger and warning
The wind brings the fragrance of freshly mown hay
The wind is a racer, a wild stallion running
The sweet taste of love on a slow summer’s day
The wind knows the songs of the cities and canyons
The thunder of mountains, the roar of the sea
The wind is the taker and giver of mornings
The wind is the symbol of all that is free
So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers
Follow her summons when she calls again
In your heart and your spirit let the breezes surround you
Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind