Clouds over Cochrane evoke hit parade of memorable songs

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 30, 2015

The sky over Cochrane as seen looking north along Highway 22 evoked musical memories ranging from “Blue Skies” and “Heavenly Sunshine” to “Wind Beneath My Wings” and “Stormy Weather.” Photo by Warren Harbeck
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Supply the missing words in the following song lyrics:

(1) “You are my ____, my only ____.”
(2) “Oklahoma, where the ____ comes sweeping down the plain.”
(3) “____ keep falling on my head.”
(4) “I’m singin’ in the ____.”
(5) “Somewhere over the ____.”

You scored a hundred per cent, right? Of course you did! The answers have become part of the lyrics of our lives: (1) sunshine, (2) wind, (3) raindrops, (4) rain, and (5) rainbow.

Whether we like it or not, we just can’t help thinking about the weather. We even immortalize it in song.

I was reminded of this on Sunday afternoon while driving back to Cochrane from Bragg Creek. My wife and I were heading north along Highway 22 halfway between the Trans-Canada and town when we noticed an intriguing cloud formation up ahead.

Although we ourselves were under a spectacular blue sky, along the northern horizon folks west of Airdrie were obviously experiencing a lightning storm – and as we later learned, funnel clouds, as well. In between our blue sky and the distant storm, a billowing blanket covered Cochrane and much of the Bow Valley.

Almost immediately the spectacular view brought back to me musical memories about what we all like to talk about, but don’t do much about – except write or perform great songs!

Ah yes, “Blue Skies,” “April Showers,” “Stormy Weather,” “Let It Snow,” and “You Are My Sunshine.” And who can forget Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings”?

Actually, my earliest memories of weather-related songs go back to my Sunday school days when I was only six or seven.

Yup, I still can sing “Heavenly sunshine, heavenly sunshine, flooding my soul with glory divine.”

Then there was that song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock instead of sand. “Oh, the rain came down and the floods came up . . . and the wise man’s house stood firm.”

And how many of you know that Sunday school song that begins: “There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love . . .”?

I suspect these delightful ditties are very much responsible for my love later in life for weather allusions in many of the songs of ancient Israel. Although the original tunes have long been lost, their lyrics have been preserved in a collection known in Hebrew as Tehillim. English speakers know them as the Psalms.

Sun and rain, thunder and lightning, storms and stillness point to God’s majesty and providence.

Two of the Psalms, in particular, have special meaning for me.

In Psalm 104, verse 3, the sacred lyricist pictures God making the clouds His chariot and riding on the wings of the wind.

Psalm 84 is a song about people on pilgrimage to the House of the Lord. The pilgrims’ hearts are alive with longing for an encounter with the Holy One of Israel. In their arduous trek, often lasting many days, they pass through a dry, thirsty land referred to as “the Valley of Baca” (verse 6): “They make it a place of springs,” the lyricist says; “the early rain also covers it with pools.”

This image speaks to me personally as someone who may find myself in the “dry, thirsty land” being experienced by the people with whom I share a cup of coffee. Are their thirsty hearts offered a spring of hope because I’ve passed through their own Valley of Baca?

To use the image from our opening song, will folks we encounter along the way sing to us: “You are my sunshine . . . You make me happy when skies are grey”?


© 2015 Warren Harbeck

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