Richie Havens – Follow

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Seldom does a song knock me back on my heels, but this is one of them. I first heard this song in the summer of 2003. We lived in a little house with a big back yard on 47th Ave S, and used to spend summer afternoons out there grilling, drinking beer, nipping on the shisha, and talking with friends. I used to leave the music on and the windows open so at times indistinct figures of melodies would drift out to us on the wind. I don’t remember on what errand I had left my guests but I came inside just as the first tentative guitar sounds began to emerge, then Havens’ first lyrics, and I was mesmerized. The afternoon sun shone warmly through the western windows as I leaned against the doorjamb transfixed, dissolving in the moment.

The rising smell of fresh-cut grass,
Smothered cities choke and yell with fuming gas;
I hold some grapes up to the sun
And their flavour breaks upon my tongue.
With eager tongues we taste our strife
And fill our lungs with seas of life.
Come taste and smell the waters of our time.
And close your lips, child, so softly I might kiss you,
Let your flower perfume out and let the winds caress you.
As I walk on through the garden, I am hoping I don’t miss you
If all the things you taste ain’t what they seem,
Then don’t mind me ‘cos I ain’t nothin’ but a dream.


4 thoughts on “Richie Havens – Follow

    keith said:
    March 14, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Havens had to play an improv set (one song, made up on the spot) for over an hour at Woodstock. Pretty amazing.

      wes responded:
      March 15, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      …and you were either the cat who brought this tune into my house, or who identified with my having heard it soon thereafter. Many blessings, amigo. Those were good times.

    Gnossos said:
    March 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I first heard Richie at one of the folk festivals. Maybe Newport, maybe Philadelphia. Peter Yarrow introduced him. It matters not where or by whom, because lo these fifty years later, he can still raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

      wes responded:
      March 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      He’s a hell of a vocalist, but his songwriting is what drew –and still draws– me to his oeuvre.

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