|This was Jim’s third recording, released back in 1989. Below are some selected lyrics from each of the selections as well as a few words from the liner notes about the song itself.
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River Runnin’ Through It
No matter what walk of life we come from, or how buried we get under so-called progress, each and every one of us has a river running through us, a tie or bond, which links us to the wild and to the Earth. This was written in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in the summer of ’87 while leading The Great Bob Trek (a 500 mile loop hike) for the Montana Wilderness Association.
There’s a song for you if you listen,
In the river, on the mountain, or the plain,
It’s a song for the heart and its there right from the start,
Singin’ through the sunshine and the rain.
There’s a river runnin’ through it, And it flows through you and me,
Through the wild in us all, Stretchin’ far as I can see,
There’s a river runnin’ through it,
And its flowin’ sweet and strong,
It’s the feelin’ in our souls that the sleepin’ mountain knows,
It’s a freedom, it’s a spirit, it’s a song.
— From “River Runnin’ Through It”
Walking In The Track of the Lion
Life is too short to live without ever getting to know yourself; without testing your own boundaries.This is from 1981 and the mountains of Arizona.
I’ve taken the trail of the lone wolf,
and I’ve walked it from time to time,
I’ve looked in the eyes of an eagle,
faced a grizzly in his prime.
I guess you might say I’m too far gone,
You know there ain’t no turning back,
Once you walk a mile of this life
in the path of the lion’s track.
And if you wonder where I’ve been,
I’ll be high in the mountain wind,
I’ll be walkin’ in the track of the lion…
Walkin’ in the track of the lion,
Walkin’ in the track of the lion once again.
— from “Walkin’ In The Track Of The Lion”
Listen To The Earth
There are lessons to be learned from the voices of the Earth, in the rhythm of Time, and in the magic of Life. Get out there! Listen! The wilderness will fill you if you’re empty. It’ll stetch your horizons. It’ll bring you a song! This one is from the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in 1983.
Have you ever heard the giants fall, when it’s silent in the wood?
Falling down all from their heights, 300 years they’ve stood.
Time has reaped its harvest now, upon the forest floor,
There’s something there I know there is…
If we listen to the Earth once more — from “Listen To The Earth”
Man of the Mountains
“I’m still a man of the mountains.” And I guess I always will be. This fictional account of an oldtime mountainman brings it all home. Once you’ve tracked a grizz and visited the haunts of the eagle you can never truly be the same. I’m glad, too!
Our outfit being complete, sixty able-bodied men,
We rode into the West, our faces to the wind,
We crossed the broad Platte, and the Sweetwater, too
Then on to the great rendezvous!
And I was a man of the mountains
A brother to the wind and the rain
Oh, I tracked the grizzly bear, roamed where eagles only dare,
I know that I’ve never been the same,
Yes, I was a man of the mountains.
— from “Man of the Mountains”
I’m Goin’ Back to Idaho
In 1986 I walked the western quarter of the Grand Canyon, into Nevada, up the length of Nevada, across Idaho, and back to my home in Montana. It was my third time walking across Idaho. Somewhere in Nevada this chorus started carrying me northward.
I first walked her mountains when I was a lad,
It rained every day, ’twas the worst time I had,
But the waters run pure and the forests all grow,
Oh, so green, in Idaho
I’m goin’ back to Idaho,
Down where the Boise River flows,
I’m goin’ back to them high country snows,
I’m goin’ back to Idaho.
— from “I’m Goin’ Back To Idaho”
Montana Moon In The Pines
In ’77 and ’78 I was stranded in California, singing in bars, restaurants, street corners; anywhere to scrape out a living. I was constantly longing for the high, clean Montana mountains I’d fallen in love with on my coast to coast walk. This song poured out one spring day in Santa Rosa. A year later I was back in Montana.
Up in Montana on the high Divide
Where the mountains stand like Gods in the sky,
Where the air is so clean you can drink it, it seems,
And the snow stays on ’til July, …
…where the sun pores pure ‘cross your sunburnt brow
And the mountains all seem to shine
Where the grizzly is king and the coyotes still sing
To the Montana moon in the pines.
— from “Montana Moon In The Pines”
The Straits of Mackinaw
I call this one a “canoe shanty”, if there can be such a thing. The voyageurs of the 1700’s always captured my imagination. From 1983, this is my attempt to capture their rough and tumble life, love, and song.
We left Montreal four months ago
And the rivers were high from the melting snow,
The flies were thick they’d make you sick,
And ropin’ the rapids well you had to be quick,
Yes, we’ll scrape and we’ll haul, And we’ll paddle ’til we’re raw
‘Cause we’re bound for the Straits of Mackinaw
Yes, we’re bound for the Straits of Mackinaw.
— from “Straits of Mackinaw”
The Ballad of Willie and Millie
The Columbia Gardens was a beautiful amusement park and gardens in Butte, Montana. Many Montana families have years of memories tied to the place. Willie and Millie met at a dance in the ’30’s, became sweethearts, and married. heir children and grandchildren grew up with the “gardens”, with fond memories of dances and family outings. In the early 1970’s the gardens were burned down and strip mined. The motherlode the mining company expected to find was never located. Willie and Millie’s grand-daughter told me their story.
Come out tonight, Millie, we’ll go dancin’
‘Cause tonight is a night for romancin’.
Out through the gardens and out o’er the hills
How I wish we could be there still.
— from “The Ballad of Willie and Millie”
The Sacred Buffalo
When the vast herds of buffalo were disappearing from the plains of the West, a legend ran amongst the tribes. Rather than dying, the herds were actually migrating; ascending into the heavens. They claimed the shadows falling across the face of the moon were the millions and millions of buffalo, still alive and well, and still on the move. The white buffalo was considered a sacred animal. This is a song about the last of the sacred white buffalo to fall to the guns of greed. It was written in the Lemhi Range in 1988.
Part animal, part God; all seeing and all wise,
He knew the web of Life, how all things were tied,
He gave to the wolf, and he gave to the native man,
He gave back to the Earth and prospered o’er the land.
He was the pride of the buffalo nation,
He was the spirit of the Earth’s very soul,
Good medicine for all creation,
He was the last of the sacred buffalo.
— from “The Sacred Buffalo”