The wind is the singer who sang the first song. . .
This morning a light dampish slightly chilly wind blows through Knobite Corner, under a sunny sky. It’s not always that way: sometimes the wind drives in storm clouds with lightning, hail and hard cold rain. Other times the wind circles back on itself and becomes a tornado, scouring and smashing lives and landscapes–sadly not too uncommon a phenomenon around us.
In gentler moods, though, the wind truly is a singer, the perfect duet partner for pines and willows and tall grass, and a subject for some of my favorite music.
One such song is the one quoted above, recorded by the late John Denver on his 1975 album Windsong. The listing of attributes of the wind makes for some of Denver’s best poetry; wed to the light lilting tune, it’s unforgettable.
“They Call the Wind Maria” is truly sui generis; there’s not another wind song like it out there. From the 1951 Lerner and Loewe musical Paint Your Wagon, it’s been sung by everyone from Vaughn Monroe to Frankie Lane to the Kingston Trio, and, in the 1969 film version, by actor Harve Presnell, but my favorite version is by country music’s great trio The Browns. The orchestral accompaniment and vocals give it a great dramatic punch.
One of the most romantic of all wind songs is Hank Williams Sr.’s “Waltz of the Wind”. Apparently it is, like his mesmerizing “Alone and Forsaken”, a home demo recording, with no accompaniment save his guitar. Ol’ Hank’s reedy tenor turns sweetly seductive here, especially on the line “the trees played the waltz of the wind”.
My alltime favorite song about the wind is also my alltime favorite Sons of the Pioneers song. Recorded on a 1959 album called Cool Water and Seventeen Timeless Favorites of the West, it uses their formidable vocal harmonies and a seamless ebb and swell of dynamics to suggest the rush and whisper of the wind as it passes.
Hope that wherever you are today, the wind sings in its gentlest mood. . .