Review by Harold Wood
Based on John Muir's true story, Stickeen, this is a ballad sung from the perspective of John Muir himself. Faithful to Muir's book-length story, but distilled down to the essence, this song elicits strong emotions as you hear about man and dog's perilous crossing of a glacier.
Ultimately, the story is about courage - ie. fear and how it must be overcome sometimes in order to survive:
"Hush your fears, my boy," said I
We'll get safe across, though it's not safe to try
We must risk our lives to save them sometimes
No right way is easy in this world of ice."
But the adventure that Muir and his canine companion Stickeen had was a great deal more than thrills. Their salvation led Muir to an inescapable conclusion about our closeness to other species:
I've learned great respect for our animal kin
In our souls we are not all that different from them
Listen to this song, and you'll know why Muir often thought "the wildest of days that I'd ever seen" was the one he spent with his "wilderness friend, Stickeen".
Guitar and concertina accompaniment to Bill's strong voice highlight the emotional tones of this ballad. Bill Oliver has done something few artists have done; take a beloved tale, and distill it to a song, still true to the original, and conveying the emotional impact that only music can deliver. Despite an ultimately happy ending, tears will spring to your eyes.
This beautiful song is available on Bill's album Friend of the River. See lyrics below, but you'll need the album to fully appreciate this song.
Bill "Mr. Habitat" Oliver has been writing and performing locally and globally for over twenty years. He is perhaps best known for his classic song, "Have to Have a Habitat," but has a splendid and growing cadre of eco-songs.
Bill also authored another John Muir song, Muir Power to You, a rousing call for preserving the wilderness, and in 2005, Hooray for Hetch Hetchy, a recollection of Hetch Hetchy as it was in John Muir's day, and a prognosis for how it could be so again.
Bill Oliver and his friends are available for rollicking eco-concerts to school and community groups anywhere.
2728 S. Congress #12
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 477-7227 (Office)
(512) 350-4110 (Cell)
(800) 492-1520 (Toll Free)
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