Sunday, February 20, 2011
Nature’s Way - Spirit
Randy California was born Randy Craig Wolfe on this date, February 20, 1951. A talented guitarist, he played in Jimi Hendrix's band Jimmy James & the Blue Flames in the summer of 1966 when he was just 15 years old. The stage name "Randy California" was given to him by Hendrix to distinguish him from another Randy in the band (who Hendrix dubbed "Randy Texas"). When Hendrix was invited to come to England to play and record, Randy's parents did not allow him to go so that he could finish high school. So the 15-year-old guitar genius missed a chance to become a member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Reportedly, Hendrix wanted Randy to go to England with him so they could "go find Jeff Beck."
In 1967 California founded the band Spirit with several other musicians ---- originally named Spirits Rebellious. The band's first demo was produced by Barry Hansen, later to become DJ Doctor Demento on the airwaves.
Spirit enjoyed a successful run and California also toured solo into the 1990s. Randy California died on January 2, 1997, while rescuing his son from drowning (swimming in Molokai, Hawaii). He himself was pulled out to sea and drowned.
Nature’s Way was a 1970 release written by Randy California and was a staple of the then-growing environmental movement (1970 saw the first Earth Day, Richard Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Congress passed the Clean Air Act, all milestone events – for better or worse).
YouTube has some better performed clips of Nature’s Way, but I like this one because it was created as a somewhat cheesy enviro promotional video. I also like this version because it contains what I believe is the original phrase in the second stanza, “... It’s nature’s way of telling you, soon we’ll freeze.” which in later years was replaced by “…It’s nature’s way of telling you, summer breeze” in live performances. Why the switch? In 1970 climate scientists were all warning about the coming new Ice Age, so Randy’s lyrics reflected that global fear. My, how times have changed!