John Muir, Elizabeth Colborne and The Seattle Camera Club were the inspiration for the song Sweet and Easy. A good friend of mine introduced me to the work of these artists. Perhaps you’ll understand why.
John Muir: Scottish-American naturalist and preservationist
How I wish I could say I were related to John Muir, the naturalist. Alas, it is only in namesake.
Muir is known for so many things. According to Fred D. White’s Essential Muir, ‘Muir once described himself as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist”. It sounds whimsical, yes, but it nicely reflects his desire to fuse rational and investigative sensibilities with aesthetic and spiritual ideas – to be both naturalist and nature celebrant’. Whether nature or nurture, it really makes little difference, for Muir’s legacy has had an immense impact on this songwriter. First I discovered his words, and then I discovered Yosemite.
John Muir has the ability to describe something you have never before seen but which immediately seizes your mind’s eye as he takes you there in an instant: he remembers the fragrance of Scottish sea winds as a boy that, 19 years later, would awaken his senses whilst in Florida, far from the coast; he compares a storm-beaten book he found in Yosemite Valley, comparing its crumbly outer pages yet well preserved inner pages ‘to the great open book of Yosemite glaciers today’.
He is by far my favourite author and though I may never travel to see Alaska’s glaciers, visit all America’s national parks or wonder at all the great mountains of California, through his writing I can’t help but become a part of his effusive enthusiasm for nature.
As with Muir in 1868, I too visited Yosemite based on only ever reading about it and I too was overwhelmed by the landscape.
The Sweet and Easy music video contains some key images of Muir, which I hope you enjoy. The words of the song should tell you much about this ‘man of the mountain, man of the sea’ and the stories he tells which continue to inspire so sweetly and with such ease.