Now that I’m a musician traveling around the globe to perform in places like Tokyo and Australia, I rarely get to enjoy nature.
However, I grew up in the tiny town of Chewelah, Washington, not all that far from Idaho and Canada. It’s a natural gem in the Colville River Valley, surrounded by mountains and forests. You could close your eyes, walk 10 feet in any direction, and open them to a moose, an elk or even a cougar. I spent my childhood hunting, fishing and, of course, building tree forts.
It’s the tree fort that almost got me in trouble. I was sitting on a board about 30 feet up the tree to nail it down. I had already nailed one side to this tiny little branch, and I was sitting on the other side of the board to nail it down to a bigger limb. Suddenly, the board popped loose and started to fall. But somehow, and I still don’t understand how, the tiny branch that held the other end didn’t break. It shouldn’t have held – it was just so small – but it did. I owe my life to that little branch. It’s miracles like that tree that taught me how beautiful, resilient and giving nature can be.
So nature is a major source of inspiration in my life and in my songs. Another significant musical inspiration is John Denver, whom I have loved since I was a kid. I grew up in a strict household with a minister father (and if your father is a minister, your mother pretty much is, too), and the only non-Christian music I could listen to was John’s. Dad felt – and I agree – that John had a very positive message about cherishing nature and the world around us.
John’s songs speak simply and movingly about taking care of the planet, and that message is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970’s. His music reminds us to be thankful for nature’s many gifts and that simple things – like his lyric the “serenity of a clear blue mountain lake” – are the most important. Too many people – myself included – are so plugged in to technology and hectic lives that they lose sight of what’s real.
To me, being in wilderness is one of the most centering and authentic experiences a person can have.
So being invited to perform “Rocky Mountain High” on John Denver’s tribute album was a dream come true for me. Not to mention, the rest of the line-up on the album is pretty incredible. The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver is definitely one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved with.
And I’m very excited that The Wilderness Society was chosen to receive a portion of the proceeds from the album.
The Wilderness Society is working hard to preserve our wildest lands, to make sure they’ll remain wild and beautiful. As we think about preserving and honoring John’s musical legacy, I think it’s important to remember and honor his wilderness legacy as well.
Listen to a Wilderness Society exclusive preview of Allen Stone's performance of "Rocky Mountain High"