On October 2, 1968, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the act that established Redwood National Park in California. The law put 58,000 acres in the control of the National Park Service. And in 1978, the government added an additional 42,000 acres to the park.
The law making the area into a national park was a culmination of decades of work by preservationists. In the late 1850s, loggers were harvesting many of the redwoods. But by the early 1900’s, a Save-the-Redwoods League started buying up land to preserve the trees, and California began designating areas as state parks.
Fortunately, we can still enjoy the massive trees at Redwood National Park, as well as see other giants at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national park (one of my favorite national parks). Sequoia and redwood trees have many similarities, but they also have many differences, such that sequoias are the largest trees by volume while redwoods are the tallest.
Van Morrison’s “Redwood Tree”
The greatest song about redwood trees would have to be Van Morrison’s “Redwood Tree.” The song first appeared on his 1972 album, Saint Dominic’s Preview, which is probably my favorite Van Morrison album.
“Redwood Tree” begins with a boy and his dog looking for a rainbow. And the song ends with a boy and his father looking for a lost dog, who is never found. But the song is really about memories of youth and what we learn as we age. The redwood tree of the title provides a protective force.
And it smells like rain,
Maybe even thunder;
Won’t you keep us from all harm,
Wonderful redwood tree.
Although “Redwood Tree” was released as a single, it only barely broke into the Billboard Top 100. At the time, reviewer Stewart Parker in The Irish Times called the song a “simple but tuneful ditty.” Rolling Stone referred to the song as a “beautiful, sensuous cut.”
Over time, many defenders have praised the song. The Telegraph lists “Redwood Tree” as one of thirty Essential Van Morrison Songs. It notes that this three-minute song about childhood is “perfection.”
Decide for your self as you celebrate the protection of these wonderful trees with a listen to Van Morrison’s “Redwood Tree.” For a bonus, below is a demo version of the song that appeared on The Genuine Philosopher’s Stone collection.
What do you think “Redwood Tree” is about? Leave your two cents in the comments.
(Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)