My song today is ‘Snowbird’. This song was written by the Canadian songwriter Gene MacLellan. Though it has been recorded by many performers (including Bing Crosby, Lynn Anderson, and Elvis Presley), it is best known through Anne Murray’s 1969 recording. It was eventually released as a single in the summer of 1970. It was a Number 2 hit on Canada's pop chart and went to Number 1 on both the Canadian adult contemporary and country charts. The song reached Number 8 on the U.S. ‘Pop Singles Chart’ and spent six weeks at Number 1 on the U.S. ‘Adult Contemporary Chart’. It also became a surprise Top 10 U.S. country hit and it was certified as a gold single by the RIAA and was the first American Gold record ever awarded to a Canadian solo female artist. The song peaked at Number 23 on the ‘UK Singles Chart’. In 2003 it was an inaugural song inductee of the ‘Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’. ‘Snowbird’ sold well over a million copies.
This song speaks to me about the ability of certain creatures to take to the air and fly away to another place whenever the climate and environmental circumstances surrounding them are no longer to their liking.
Such an invitation to ‘take time out’ sounds very much like heaven in today’s Covid-19 lockdown climate. So many of us would simply like to ’get away from it all’. Imagine spending a month stranded in splendid isolation on a desert island with palm trees to act as a soothing shade from the hot sun, and with clear green waters to swim in nearby, blue skies above to rest beneath, and an abundance of bananas, fresh fruit, coconuts and berries, and fresh-water fish, all on hand to eat.
For those of you, who cannot magic up the reality of such a dream break, allow your mind and imagination to take you to all manner of places new and relaxing. Lose yourself in one of those classic novels which you have promised yourself to read for years while you are shielding and cannot leave your house, and which your busy lives never lets you get around to. Or freely listen to my relaxation tape which ten thousand people plus have listened to and learn to relax with since 1970 called, ‘Relax with Bill’. http://www.fordefables.co.uk/.../01_relaxation_with_bill.mp3
You could even lose yourself for a few months in writing that book which you always planned to get around to writing but never did. There is nothing more self-absorbing, satisfying and pleasurable (as well as concentrating one’s mind away from all the stresses of life) than the writing of one’s first book. As the author of 64 published books for children, young persons, and adults, between 1989-2016, I can tell you that seeing one’s work in print increases one’s feeling of self-worth immensely, and seeing another person read your book and watching them enjoying the experience, generates a sense of self-pride and accomplishment that is second to few other experiences I know of.
At the age of 21 years, I took off to Canada for a two-year experience living and working in a new land. This was a ‘time out’ spell in my life that was necessary to ‘find myself’. I had arrived at that stage in life where one does something to push out the boat, like join the army, get married, start a family, or emigrate to another country. This was not too dissimilar an experience that many young people seek today when they take a ‘gap year’ travelling abroad after leaving university. Many a young person uses such a ‘time out’ opportunity to fly the family nest and to seek out new skies for themselves where they will hopefully discover what they want to do with the rest of their lives. It is a time when they finally grow up and earn their wings.
The happiest of people are those who dare to dream of a more positive place and time. We should hold fast to our dreams and never allow the negative pessimism of another to shatter them; for if dreams die, life has no more horizon than does a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. One quotation about birds which I believe wholeheartedly came from the writer James Matthew Barrie who said, “The reason birds can fly and we can’t is simply because they have perfect faith; to have faith is to have wings.” Barrie had the ability to capture the mind and imagination of his child reader with his book ‘Peter Pan’. Peter Pan , who was also known as the ‘Boy who wouldn’t grow up’ is the story of a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures on the island of ‘Neverland’ with Wendy Darling and her brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, the Indian princess Tiger Lily, and the pirate Captain Hook.
As a child, I was always fascinated by how a hen laid its egg and where it came from in the first place. The real magic for me though was seeing an egg hatch out. The author of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, C.S. Lewis, once observed that while it may be difficult to imagine an egg turning into a bird, it would be a jolly sight harder for the unborn bird to fly while remaining an egg. Human growth is no different. A child cannot become an adult without ceasing to be a child. Just because an adult stops being a child, it does not necessarily follow that they should abandon all of their childhood ways. There is much to be said for an adult retaining an ability to sometimes jump in puddles for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment and hell of it! That is why mountaineers climb mountains, why explorers explore, and singers sing; because the mountain is there, because exploration leads to new discoveries, and because singers have a song to sing!
I spent over 25- years as a Probation Officer in the West Yorkshire Probation Service, working with people whose past prevented them from moving on with their lives and maturing into the adults they were meant to be. We are all like eggs during our development, but even the best eggs among us cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. To develop, we must hatch into the bird we were destined to be or go bad. I am afraid that any person who is unable to emotionally reconcile themselves with where they came from, what they are now, and where they are going, will, (in mental and physical health terms) go bad!
Love and peace Bill xxx