Saturday Single No. 229

Our long driveway yesterday afternoon was clear of snow and ice.

All winter long, the minor snowfalls had been pressed down, first into the dirt and then – for most of the season – into the packed snow that eventually turned to ice. Major snowfalls brought us a visit from the snowplow guy, but smaller snows – as has been the case for the three winters we’ve lived here – provided more raw material for what in effect was a mini-glacier that wound its way from the garage down to Lincoln Avenue.

I wrote a year ago during the Winter Olympics of my fear of slipping on the slick driveway and sliding to the bottom. This year’s driveway was slicker yet, and still we managed to get through the winter – this far, anyway – without taking a tumble. And yesterday afternoon, the glacier had gone. The driveway was clear.

But, to quote Chad & Jeremy, that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.

Last night’s northwestern winds brought with them two or three inches of snow. It’s hard to tell, as the winds – having eased off to twenty-one miles an hour as I write – have tossed the snow around during the night. Not all of the driveway is covered again, but enough of it is to make me feel as if all the melting progress we’ve seen during the past few days has been in vain.

And the wind has left its minidrifts on the sidewalks as well. I truly do not mind shoveling snow. It’s good exercise, and – unless the snow is wet and heavy and deep – I find being outdoors in the cool air energizing. But keeping the sidewalks clear this winter has been a Sisyphean task. I am tempted to let this morning’s blown snow lie undisturbed until it melts. According to Weatherbug, that should happen Monday at the latest.

In the meantime, the wind continues to whip around the corner of the house, its moan making it the dominant feature of the day. So I thought I’d sort my music for tunes with “wind” in the title and visit six of them randomly in search of a tune for the day.

First up is “Prairie Wind,” the lengthy title tune from Neil Young’s 2005 CD. Many listeners seemed to hear the album as a return to the long-ago form of Harvest, but I thought that even though the ingredients of the 2005 album were tasty, they just didn’t jell into full form. That holds true for the title song, with the background singers and the lonely harmonica fighting an incongruous chorus of horns. It’s not an awful track, but Young has done much better.

From there we go back to what I think is 1964, and a performance of “Blow Wind Blow” by Muddy Waters and pianist Otis Span at the Newport Folk Festival. Both legends were in good form, and the audience was appreciative. The performance lacks the bite of Waters’ legendary take on “Got My Mojo Working” at Newport four years earlier, but it’s pleasant listening.

We move on to a 1964 recording of “Four Strong Winds” by country stalwart Bobby Bare. His take on Ian Tyson’s classic song is pretty straightforward with a minimum of interpretation. Still, country fans liked what they heard: The record went to No. 3 on the country chart – one of fifty-nine records Bare placed in the country Top 40 – and made it to No. 60 on the pop chart.

Fourth in our six-song trek this morning is a track by Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown of the early 1970s folk-rock group Joy of Cooking. “As I Watch the Wind” comes from Cross Country, a country-ish album the duo recorded in Nashville in 1973. “And as I watch the wind tear the trees apart, I can feel your love still tearin’ at my heart.” Nice.

Folkdove was a 1970s French ensemble about which I know very little. Sometime during my early explorations of music blogs I found a copy of the group’s self-titled 1975 album. Our fifth selection, “The Wind and the Rain” comes from that album, and I might have found it interesting at the time I first found it. But the plain melody sung with just a simple drum for accompaniment wears on me this morning. I don’t recall the rest of the album, but “The Wind and the Rain” – brief though it is at 2:30 – goes on a bit too long for me this morning. Kind of like the real-world wind outside with its one-note song.

And we alight on Eric Andersen’s “Wind and Sand,” one of the meditative tracks that made his 1972 album Blue River a classic – sometimes forgotten these days, I think – of the singer-songwriter genre. The song is deceptively simple:

All alone a father sits
Thinking of his son.
Far away a mother sleeps
Her baby yet unborn.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

In a while a child will grow,
A bird will learn to fly.
Pretty soon a child will know
What it is to make a life.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

Long before the river goes
Far from where it was,
Long before it meets the sea,
A child will know of  love.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

And that simple elegance makes “Wind and Sand” today’s Saturday Single.

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