Sunday, February 10, 2008

Nature's Way, Spirit (1970)

One month before Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, teens were hearing from the world-conscious L.A. band Spirit about life's fragility and the importance of caring for the environment.

A beautiful song sung by the late Randy California, who formed the group as a teenager with his stepfather Ed Cassidy, Nature's Way was a very harmonic convergence of jazz, folk and rock. As one of the founders of my high school's first Earth Day earlier that year, the song resonated, to put it mildly.

A chance meeting with Jimi Hendrix in New York City led the precocious guitarist California, at the tender age of 15, to a regular gig for 3 months with Hendrix' precursor band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. (This interview with Randy has some nifty background on those days in Hendrix' orbit.) Randy just missed becoming part of the Jimi Hendrix Experience when his parents nixed the idea of him accompanying Jimi on tour to England in 1966.

The much-older Cassidy had played drums with the legendary Art Pepper and Thelonius Monk. These and other influences pervaded Spirit's eclectic and genre-defying repertoire.


karmasartre said...

I had no idea this was by Spirit. It was a staple on KFOG in San Francisco for many years -- I liked it but it never really registered. I hadn't heard it in a long time (unitl just now youtubing it), and had forgotten about it, so thank you for reminding me. Very beautiful. Pity that RC met with such a tragic demise. Got my $.99; off to iTunes to buy it.

Phineas said...

Wow - I used to play this song on guitar at parties in the 70's all the time. Totally forgot about it. Thanks for the memory.

Nice blog.....great level of detail.