Forever Wild (Spirit Is Still On The Run) CD

 Forever Wild
(Spirit Is Still on the Run)

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The Songs on “Forever Wild”

 The River Song
 Just A Part Of The Sky
 I Walk With The Old Ones
 Let Me Listen To The Wind
 The Brand New Grand Canyon Suite
 Wolf Song
 Follow Your Heart
 Old Cisco
 Forever Wild
 Green And Growing
Spirit_Is_Still_On_the_Run_cover_large 

The Songs on “Spirit Is Still on the Run”

 All Along the Great Divide
 Lone Lion Runs
 Edgar Griffin – 1918
 The Litter Song
 Sweetwater
 A Desert Day Dies
 Follown’ The Rainbow Trail
 Yellowstone Tales
 Lone Coyote Ways
 Spirit Is Still On The Run
 The Writing On The Rock
This CD combines Walkin’ Jim’s first two recordings. Spirit Is Still On the Run was released in 1984. Forever Wild is from 1987. Below are some selected lyrics from each of the songs as well as a few words from the liner notes with further background. 
 
 Forever Wild

 The Brand New Grand Canyon Suite

There is a place on this Earth unlike any other. We call it “grand”, yet words tend to ring empty and fall short when tagged on the vast grandeur, the incredible spaciousness we call the Grand Canyon. When I first wandered through The Canyon for a few weeks in 1981, I was walking the length of Arizona. I fell in love with the place. In falling, the music stirred one more time.

                    It’s the Grand Canyon Suite,
                    And it’s mighty hard to beat,
                    All Time in one glance, through the miles it will sweep,
                    And knock you clean off of your feet
                    It’s the Grand Canyon Suite. 
                                        — from “The Brand New Grand Canyon Suite”
 

The River Song  

In the Fall of 1985 my brother, Mark, and I paddled down the Betsie River in Michigan. It was a special time to get to know each other again, and a time to soak up the beauty of the midwest autumn.

                              There’s a great blue heron looking down his nose,
                              As he checks us over in the morning sun,
                              Paddles flashin’ and the muskrat splashin’
                              The kingfish screams as the salmon run.
                                         Sailin’ down a silver ribbon,
                                         Autumn colors kiss the sun,
                                        Here we’re floatin’ down a rainbow,
                                        Rollin’ home on a river run.
 
                                                                       — from “The River Song”
 
Just A Part of the Sky 

Written in 1982 while walking the length of Utah, this song is an attempt to explain what draws me to the backcountry; a song of perspective, change, and wonder.

                              Some folks they ask me, “Why do you go,
                              There ain’t much goin’ on up in them hills.”
                              But I tell them I’ve been there a time or two,
                              And I can see it all still.
                              I see the sun comin’ up over the mesa at morning,
                             And the dew all a-shine on the sage,
                             I see the rainbow of color playin’ soft o’er the mountain,
                             And it’s readin’ like your front page.
                             I see eagles a-soarin’ free as the wind,
                             Maybe they’re just a part of the sky,
                             In the clouds I see faces of old mountain men,
                             Maybe that’s where they go when they die. 
                                                                                 — from “Just A Part of the Sky”
 

Let Me Listen To The Wind

I’ve always been fascinated by the freedom and the spirit of the early mountainmen. Jim Bridger came west in the 1820’s when he was 17 years old. He roamed the Rocky Mountains for almost 40 years, until his eyesight and health began to fail in the 1860’s. His return to Missouri to die, far from his beloved mountains, set me to wonderin’ how he must have felt during his last years.
           Let me listen to the wind my friend, let it take me back again,
           Let me listen to the wind my friend, let me go back where I been,
          This ain’t no place for a mountain man who’s roamed the whole west wide,
           Let me listen to the wind my friend before it fades away and dies. 
                                                                     — from “Let Me Listen To The Wind”
 

Wolf Song

This song, along with the poem by Fred Donaldson, says it all. It’s a lament, a plea, and a question. Have humans as a whole advanced far enough to accept the right of other creatures to exist? Will the big wolf’s track pass this way again?
                               There’s a lone wolf howlin’ on the ridgeline tonight,
                               Callin’ for her brothers, not a one in sight,
                               What will it take, or is her song in vain?
                               Will the big wolf’s track pass this way again? 
                                                                               — from “Wolf Song”

Old Cisco

Written back in ’77, this ballad tells the story of a mountain man who lives to see the end of an era; the end of the wild west. Though not a historical tale, I can’t help but think it might be “true”. There’s a lot of Cisco in me.

                                Because he’d heard all the tales of wild spaces to the west,
                                Snow-capped mountains shining far and wide,
                                And he knew he had to go, ’cause he could never rest,
                                Until he caught the taste of freedom in that blue Montana sky. 
                                                                                             — from “Old Cisco”
 

Follow Your Heart

In the Fall of ’85 my sister, Susan, was going through a time of changes, new directions, and tough decisions. I wrote this one for her, but have found that it’s good advice for everyone.

                                …..seek out the power in your own mind’s eye,
                                Listen to your heart, it’ll teach you by and by.
                                Follow your heart, that’s where to begin,
                                Chase down those dreams, go a-dancin’ with the wind,
                                 Listen to the love that you find along the way,
                                 Let your light shine in, and sing your life away. 
                                                                              — from “Follow Your Heart”
 

I Walk With The Old Ones

In 1986 I walked from the Grand Canyon back to my home in Montana. I began the trip by walking the western quarter of The Canyon. I went many days without seeing anyone, but had a very strong sense of those who once roamed there. I slept under ledges of rock covered with ancient petroglyphs. I found arrowheads, bits of pottery, and this song. The Old Ones are gone, but their spirit is alive and well.

                      Come walk the open mesa, come taste of the desert sand,
                      Come roam the canyon narrows, and feel for the age of this land. 
                               I walk with the Old Ones,
                              Their spirit still roams through these hills,
                               I can hear it again, on the desert wind,
                              And their songs, they echo here still. 
                                                                            — from “I Walk With The Old Ones”
 

Green and Growing

There is a kingdom of living things we share this Earth with who are often overlooked, abused, and in many instances destroyed. I speak of the Green Kingdom, the plants, trees, and flowers which give us Life. Slow down and take a closer look. Wrap your arms around a tree. Feel it green and growing!

                                Green and growing, green and growing,
                                Everything is green and growing,
                               There’s a wisdom there worth knowing,
                                When that stream of life’s a-flowing,
                                And everything is green, green and growing. 
                                                                        — from “Green and Growing”
 

Forever Wild

I’ve sung this song in concert halls, schools, churches, and even a courtroom, but my favorite place to sing it is where it was written: sitting on a mountain peak with my heart humming to the wind, and my soul bursting with power and hope.

                              The Earth it holds the key to all that shall be free,
                              It’s in the peace of the desert and the wisdom of the trees,
                              It’s in the grace of a swans wing and the grizzly when she’s riled
                              It’s in all the love I bear it, let it stay forever wild. 
                                             Forever wild, Forever wild,
                                             Let it stay, forever wild. 
                                                                              — from “Forever Wild”

Spirit Is Still On The Run

All Along The Great Divide

In 1979 I spent six months walking from Mexico to Canada following the Continental Divide. One clear mountain morning as I hiked along the very crest of the Centennial Mountains (along the Idaho-Montana line) this chorus started rolling through my head. It kept me company for several hundred miles, and one night in Glacier National Park the verses poured out. The song describes a day in the life of a backcountry walker, from sunrise to sunset.

Well, you get up in the morning, shake the dew off of your mind,
As the sun pours like honey through the ponderosa pine
You’re livin’ every moment as if you’ve just arrived,
Because you know what it means to be alive.
The crystal morning is broken with a cooin’ of a dove
As you head on up the trail to the highlands up above
Where the colors of the rainbow, are the flowers at your feet,
And your heart sings a song with every beat.

— from “All Along The Great Divide”

Lone Lion Runs

The mountain lion is one of the most fascinating creatures I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately they’re running out of the elbow room they need to continue their existence. This one was written in ’81 in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona after following a lion’s tracks for a mile through the snow.

Lone lion runs and the lone lion cries
He used to roam this whole land, but now he just gets by.
Lone lion runs and the lone lion cries.
Tomorrow the lone lion dies.

— from “Lone Lion Runs”

Edgar Griffin – 1918     


In ’82 I walked the length of Utah and spent about a week hiking over the beautiful Aquarius Plateau. One day as I climbed up Griffin Top I came across some huge aspens with dates carved into them dating back to 1898. The one that really set me wondering though, was “Edgar Griffin – 1918”.

Were you young and green and restless, or were you crusty growin’ old
Was your beard as white as silver, had you stories to be told.
Did you laugh at the wind? Did you smile at the sun?
Did you curse the drifted snow?
Who were you? I’d like to know.
Who were you? And what trails, what trails have you seen?
Who were you, Edgar Griffin – 19 and 18?
                                                                           — from “Edgar Griffin – 1918”
 The Litter Song


There’s no excuse for litter. Laziness, ignorance, and a basic disrespect for the Earth all contribute. It took me twenty years of thinking about it, and one night in Great Falls, Montana with a bottle of Yukon to write it.

Cigarette butts like a carpet of dust and they’re scattered all over the place,
Five busted coolers and three old socks, and one ol’ box of cornflakes,
A potatoe-chip bag and a dirty rag, and a jar of dippity-do,
Ten paper cups and twenty gum wrappers …
And some melted ice-cream too, (oouuwwh!) and some melted ice-cream, too!
                                                                                   — from “The Litter Song”
Sweetwater


The Great Divide Basin in Wyoming is a wide open, rather barren land; a hot, trying place to walk in the summer. But if you’re walking north, a few days of hiking will bring you to the banks of the prettiest little river you ever did see, the Sweetwater, a river that lives up to its name.

Wild space will feed your mind, mid-day sun will burn you blind,
your boots will leave their story in the dust.
But the night will bring a chill and later snow I know it will
The seasons here ain’t nothing you can trust,
Then comes the day you can’t go on, but you top the hill and start to run
There she goes a-singin’ through the dust.
                                                                                   — from “Sweetwater”

As A Desert Day Dies     

One hot spring day in the desert of New Mexico I had the misfortune to hit three dry water holes in a row. As the day died and I lay back under a juniper, I had one swallow of water left in my canteen and was ten miles from the next possible water. I was worried and anxious until the magic of the place took hold, and I realized that it simply didn’t matter if I was out of water. The important thing was that I was there. This song spilled out that night in about twenty minutes.

As a desert day dies someone paints all the skies,
as the sun goes down in a blaze,
The shadows are riled, and colors run wild,
they leap ‘cross the sands where you lay,
And as the lights start to fall,
the coyotes they call to this world that is yours for a dream,
Something grabs hold and it’s deep in your soul,
It’s good and it’s strong and it’s clean.
                                                                — from “As A Desert Day Dies”
Yellowstone Tales     


In April of ’84 some friends and I spent eight days skiing through the Bechler region of Yellowstone Park. Is was an early trip to heaven and great inspiration for a song about winter in Yellowstone.

Well we’ve come here like pilgrims to see if it was true
If the Earth here could change like in a dream
And we’ve wandered down the canyons through the lodgepole and the spruce
To find the world of geysers and of steam.
I feel like I’ve found some new magic,
Amidst the snow and the steam-plumed vales,
And like a mountain man of old, well I guess that I’ve been sold,
On them snow driven Yellowstone Tales.
                                                               — from “Yellowstone Tales”
 Followin’ The Rainbow Trail


I spent four years, between 1980 and 1984, laying out and hiking a new trail from Mexico to Canada called the Grand West Trail. It led me through a variety of terrain (mountains, deserts, canyon lands, plains, and forests) and gave me a wide spectrum of color to brighten my life. I’ll always think of it as my Rainbow Trail. This song was written in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

It led me to the mountains, in the snow I froze my feet,
Then it dropped me to the desert, I nearly died from the heat,
It led me through the canyon, there’s only one they call the Grand,
It made me feel so small, but I came out a bigger man.
I’ve been followin’, followin’ the Rainbow Trail,
Followin’ the Rainbow Trail.
I’ve been followin’, followin’ the Rainbow Trail,
Followin’ the Rainbow Trail.
                          — from “Followin’ The Rainbow Trail”
 Lone Coyote Ways


The coyote is an old friend of mine. I love the way he carries himself and there’s nothing like his song on a still desert night. When I see him loping off through the sagebrush, or hear him joining me in a song to the moon, I can’t help but feel a little coyote blood flowing in my veins!

Now me, I was born in a windstorm,
And the points of the compass they call,
And if I didn’t go when them high winds blow
I wouldn’t have nothing at all.
I’m just a half-blooded, pup of a coyote, howlin’ away my days,
Running to ground my star-studded dreams
And living my lone coyote ways.

— from “Lone Coyote Ways”

 The Writing On The Rock

In the Fall of 1980 Tag and John Rittel were hunting up Arasta Creek in the Scapegoat Wilderness of Montana. They chanced upon the remains of an old rifle and nearby, a rock with a terrifying story carved into it. The writing was dated 1881 and seemed to have been written over a period of a couple days. Among other things was written:


“Jo Baker – Griz Kilt Me God Help – I Hurt Bad Lig Chewed And Is Rot – Bar My Com Bak – My Rifel Is Brok In To – My Ribs Brok – O Holi God Let Me Die” . The last line on the rock reads: “I Her Dam Griz She Com Bak”.   The rock is on display at the Rittel’s Blacktail Ranch near Wolf Creek, MT.

Joe Baker was his name, and I guess the story’s plain,
What Time had left us here beneath the sun,
Cause all that we got, is some writing on a rock,
And an old rusted, dusted, busted gun.
                                     –  from “The Writing On The Rock”

Spirit Is Still On The Run

It’s still out there. You can hear it on the mountain wind, feel it in the stillness of the desert, and taste it in the freshness of the wild places still left. Get out and experience it. Take a friend. The spirit will never die as long as there are those who love and respect the wild Earth.

Yes, their spirit is still on the run,
It’s the American dream movin’ on,
Their memory is free, left to you and to me,
And the Spirit is still on the run.
                             — from “Spirit Is Still On The Run”