Little Piece Of Time CD

 Little Piece of Time

Heart of This Wild Land
Circle of Life
Turnaround
Eye of the Hunter
Yellowstone to Yukon
Little Piece of Time
Canyon Country
Cellular Phone
Down in the Blue
Song for Rachel
Ballad of Everett Ruess
The River Calls
Make A Difference
One Land One Heart

 This is Jim’s most recent recording, his ninth release, from 2004. Below are some selected lyrics from each of the selections as well as a few words from the liner notes about the songs themselves. 

Little Piece of Time

The songs on this recording come from a wide range of places and times. Most of them represent unique journeys, moments, and experiences from my 25,000 miles of walking across North America’s last wild places. Wilderness sings to my soul. It inspires. It challenges. It fills me with a sense of peace along with a sense of belonging. Once tasted, it keeps calling me back. These songs mean a lot to me, and I hope they’ll grow to mean a lot to you, too.

 

 Heart of This Wild Land

In 2002 I finished my most amazing adventure, walking from Yellowstone to Yukon. The last 600 miles, through the vast Muskwa-Kechika region was truly inspiring. This song rolled out one day near the Gataga River and I sang it for the first time to my friend, Jack Noll, who had joined me for a sixteen-day stretch of the trek. Thanks for listening, Jack!
 “As long as mountains rise and fall, there are those who heed the call,
To seek the hidden places, beyond these valleys jaded walls,
Some will walk the wide vast spaces, others wander where they stand,
Some just dream of the thought, the strong heart of this wild land.
 
I am bound, o’er the hills, unto the heart of this wild land,
O’er the mountain’s singing rivers, unto the heart of this wild land.”
 
— from “Heart of This Wild Land”

 Circle of Life

This one comes from a wonderful 500-mile trek through four mountain ranges in central Nevada in 1995. One of many songs that spilled out that summer, this one is a celebration of the circles and cycles that sustain us. The longer I live, the truer the song becomes.

“It’s a circle of life we’re a-living,
it’s a circle every which way,
There’s a lesson there for the giving,
So go on and give it away.”  
 
— from “Circle of Life”

 Turnaround

This one is from my first summer (’97) of walking the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor. I started that year in the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park (Daly Creek) and ended up in Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada. The 600-mile journey allowed me lots of time to soak up the beauty and majesty of this incredible region and brought me this song. “Every time I turn around, I’m amazed again to see…the heartbeat of this planet staring back at me.” For more information about Montana wilderness and how you can help it please visit http://www.wildmontana.org and support the Montana Wilderness Association.

 “You could call me a rich man, for all the gold I’ve seen,
My pack is full of sunsets, they trade in good on dreams,
You can bundle up life’s treasures and hold em in your hand,
But the key to all is letting go and listening to the land.
 
 
Every time I turn around….I’m amazed again to see,
It’s the heartbeat of this planet staring back at me, staring back at me.”
 
— from “Turnaround”

Eye of the Hunter

In 1998 Craig Wagner and I founded Musicians United to Sustain the Environment (on the web at http://www.musemusic.org), a non-profit organization using music to raise consciousness (about environmental issues) and funds for important grassroots projects that are helping our wildlife and wild places. We’ve released three compilation recordings. The profits from the sales go toward funding our grants program. In 2001 we released a cd with Predator Conservation Alliance (PCA), a collection of “predator” songs from fifteen artists. We have songs celebrating wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and more. I produced the recording and contributed this song.

“Fisher lopes through a silent forest,
Senses primed and something’s gonna die
There’s a rumblin’ in her belly, and somewhere there is life
To feed the hunger in the hunter’s eyes.
It’s the howl of life, it’s the growl of spirit,
It’s the flash of some sun-bleached bone,
It’s the call of the wild,
It’s the eye of the hunter, burnin’ with a fire all its own.”
 
— from “Eye of the Hunter”

 Yellowstone to Yukon

The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Iniative (www.y2y.net) is an effort to protect the wildlife corridors between the Yellowstone Ecosystem and the Mackenzie Range of the Yukon. Science has confirmed what ecologists have long believed: “everything is connected”. My home in the Yellowstone Region is a small part of a vast web of life extending beyond borders. It certainly makes my backyard seem a whole lot bigger.

I’d just finished my third Mexico to Canada trek in ’96 when I heard Harvey Locke speak quite eloquently about the “Y2Y”. I was intrigued and curious, and decided to walk it. What followed were five summers of hiking some of the most pristine, remote, and untouched areas in North America. This was the most challenging and rewarding trek I’ve undertaken. In 2001, amidst days and days of rain beaten mountains, I found this song along the route.

 “Oh, I’ve walked the untouched valleys,
through the meadows and the forests,
All along the rocky ridges, I sometimes set my course,
Those sparkling mountain waters have cleansed my weary bones,
From the Yellowstone to the Yukon, it’s the heartbeat of my home.”

— from “Yellowstone to Yukon”

Little Piece of Time

Leslie and I walked an exciting ten-day loop in the Upper Paria country of Southeast Utah in the spring of 1995. We wandered through narrow canyons, over slickrock mesas, and under smooth, wind-sculpted walls. This song was written as the sun was setting over the Pink Cliffs on the day we finished our trek.

“Feather on the stone, tracks in the sand,
Scratches on the wall, like a trace of my hand,
Red rock desert, sheer canyon stone,
Twisted tree rooted where nothing should have grown.Little piece of time woven into stone,
Written on the lines only wind has known.
Out in the desert, seek and you’ll find,
A little piece, a little piece, a little piece of time.”
 
— from “Little Piece of Time”

Canyon Country

There is no place like the slickrock country. I try to get down there at least once a year, sometimes for only a week or two loop hike, sometimes for a month or two. No matter how long I spend, each trip stays with me, inspiring and carrying me. Words like “magical” don’t do it justice. The peace of the desert and the silence of the canyons make it a truly sacred place. To help protect the canyon country please support the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance at http://www.suwa.org

“There’s a place in the desert a-callin’ your name,
Oh, how the wind does blow.
The old ones walk softly, the ages the same,
That was a long time ago.
                              
 
The sun is setting low o’er the canyon,
A land once wild and once free,
It’s a calling and I hope you will answer
For the love of the canyon country.”
 
— from “Canyon Country”

Cellular Phone

It’s hard to explain why these little machines bother me so much. It’s not the phones themselves, but the intrusion they represent. Are we humans so afraid of silence and time with ourselves that we need constant communication with others? Must we be reachable at every moment in our lives? Are we so fearful of life that we must drag along safety nets wherever we go? We all have nightmare stories of hearing cell phones go off at the most inappropriate time. We don’t need the darn things. And they surely don’t belong in the wilderness. If you’re looking for security…. stay home.

“I went to a funeral, ’twas my dear ol’ Dad,
I don’t understand why they got so mad,
I mean I answered the phone on the very first ring,
It only takes one hand for that pal bearer thing.”
                                                                   
 
— from “Cellular Phone”

Down in the Blue

The Blue Range of Southeast Arizona is one of our nation’s last wild areas, highly deserving of protection under federal wilderness designation, but still not having received that protection. This song was inspired in 1992 when Leslie and I spent a couple months walking across “the Blue” and into New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness. Support the Arizona Wilderness Coalition at http://www.azwild.org.

“Oh, the mist is softly rising, over the distant blue horizon,
I know the sun is coming soon.
And the Earth is quietly waiting, as the night is slowly fading,
Away to give the morning room
This peace is hard to find…Its the last place of its kind
The wild lands have become so far and few.”
 
 
—from “Down in the Blue”

Song for Rachel 

Several years ago Greg Artzner, of the great folk duo, Magpie, started compiling a collection of songs to help the Rachel Carson Council; a CD that would celebrate the life of Rachel Carson. Greg’s effort got me thinking about Carson’s classic book “Silent Spring”. When I read it in the mid 1960’s it made a big impression on this young school boy. Rachel Carson’s actions and words have brought an overwhelmingly positive influence to this Earth. This song was recorded in June of 2001.

 “And I’m singing this song for Rachel, And for the Elders of my tribe
And I’m singin’ it for the children, And this ol’ Earth on which we ride.
There will be no silent spring, and there will come a better day.
 If we keep singin’ this song for Rachel,
and remember what she had to say.”
  
 
— from “A Song for Rachel”

The Wild Escalante
(Ballad of Everett Ruess)
 

Everett Ruess was an adventurer, poet, and artist who loved wild country. Still in his teens, he took to the deserts and canyons of Arizona and Utah in the early 1930’s, wandering for months with a burro as his only companion. In November of 1934 Everett mysteriously vanished while in the side canyons of the Escalante River. Intense searches at the time were unsuccessful. Everett left behind a wonderful series of block prints, poems and letters to family and friends which shared his intense passion for wilderness.

“Rosy red sun o’er the mesa, the dawn stalks the canyon this way,
Oh the desert will share all the glory it bares,
for those who come here to stay.
He was only a lad in his twenties,
but he walked through the wilds all alone,
Makin’ peace with the land, and the beauty at hand,
It touched him in ways all its own.
But the wild Escalante, holds its secrets well,
And if his bones lie bleached or if he’s roamin’ there still,
There ain’t no one to tell. There ain’t no one to tell.”
  
 
— from “The Wild Escalante”

 The River Calls

In August of 2003 Leslie and I, along with our friends Dale Petty and Jeannine Palms, canoed the Sheenjek River through the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Yukon Flats Refuge. The 22 day trip offered wilderness paddling at it’s best with hikes up to various mountaintops, an array of wildlife (bears, caribou, wolves, eagles, otters and loons), haunting displays of the northern lights, and the wild mood of the vast landscape we traveled through. How blessed we are that this place is still untrammeled and protected! May we keep the promise, and keep it wild!

“The rivers a promise of things to come,
A ribbon of hope, shining in the sun,
The river is life for the great and small,
Oh, it’s the call of the wild, that the mighty river calls.”
                       
 
— from “The River Calls”

Make A Difference

My sister, Susan Grace, inspired this one. Sue is a singer-songwriter herself and wanted to travel more with her music, rethinking the roll her music was to play. I asked her wanted she really wanted to do musically. She didn’t hesitate: “I once heard you doing a radio interview and you said you wanted to live a life, and play music, that makes a difference. That’s what I want to do.” Of course my first response was, “I said that?” Life truly is a “circle”. Sue’s reminder of my own words and my own goals rode with me that spring of ‘95 as I toured the west coast with my show. My last concert of the season was at the High Desert Conference held at the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. The crowd was so welcoming and so responsive that when I left for home the next day I drove on a wave of love and care. This song was written during the first few hours of the long drive back to Montana. I’m honored to have Denise Rogers, a brave and courageous woman, sing a duet with me on this one. Denise is one who continues to “make a difference”.

“You ask me what, one person can do.
You ask me how, we can see it through.
You ask me why, I’m a-singin’ for you.
Just want to make a difference, just want to make a difference,
You can make a difference, just want to make a difference.”

— from “Make A Difference”

One Land One Heart

 The first compilation cd released by Musicians United to Sustain the Environment in spring of 1998 was a fine collection of environmental songs with a wide variety of singer-songwriters contributing their tunes. As co-producer, I came up with the title for the cd, “One Land, One Heart”. At the time I was sorry we didn’t have a song called that. It certainly had a nice ring to it. Well, maybe some day. The idea rolled around for 6 years. In early 2004 while starting to work on this recording, the song finally followed its title.

“I’m a woman, I’m a man, I’m a child of the land,
With my roots tapped to this Earth, no matter where I stand,
I’m a rich one, I’m a poor one, I’m the orphan locked outside,
I’m the family that you’ll always have, walking at your side.
 
I’m a beggar, I’m a thief, I’m one who still believes
I’m the farmer kicking dust, but still I’m planting seeds,
I’m the promise, I’m the lie, I’m the glint that lights your eye
I’m the spirit in the wind, and the fire that never dies. 

One Land, One Heart
We’re all in this together.
One Land, One Heart,
One green planet forever.”

— from “One Land One Heart”