Barry Ollman Songs
Painting The West
Words and music, Barry Ollman, 2009.
A brilliant horizon, one hundred birds,
I capture this moment, without any words.
I've got to keep moving as I try to be still,
my brush in my hand and these pages to fill.
With the Red Rocks of Heaven and the Fires of Hell,
in my quietest moment, I've nothing to tell.
The call of the canyon puts my spirit at rest,
I'm out on the road, Painting the West...
Watching for wildlife, feeling the weather,
I'd be freezing tonight, but you made me this sweater
Of yellows and golds, it's simple and true;
now the sun's going down and the moon's coming through.
Much has been given, I know I've been blessed;
I'm out on the road... Painting the West.
It's an ancient pursuit, from another day,
To capture this vision of another way.
Last night I was restless, for the first light of day;
it draws my attention to the purple and grey,
The colors of morning, just ahead of the dawn
I'll gather together these pictures I've drawn.
And I'll send you a package, those that I have not burned;
These are for you, until I return.
But now I'm holding binoculars, and watching the nest,
Out on the road...
Painting the West.
This song started after a hike that my wife Judy and I had taken in February down in Sedona, Arizona where we used to have a place. The walk was spectacular and the images were vivid and alive. When we got back to Colorado I started playing with some ideas.
Judy and I are privileged to be the custodians of a beautiful oil painting, painted by Woody Guthrie in 1936 of his impressions of Santa Fe, New Mexico. As our friend Nora Guthrie points out in her amazing book Woody Guthrie Art Works Woody left dust bowl ravaged Texas not with a guitar but with paintbrushes in hand. Check out Woody's entry in this 1936 telephone directory from Pampa, Texas.
For his occupation Woody used the word painter (abbreviated as pntr). Pick up a copy of the Nora Guthrie and Steven Brower book and you'll see why.
Those of you who know me know that I have been a collector of all sorts of historical material (see Collections) for many years. I remembered that I had bought a collection in the mid-eighties from someone who's great-great-grandfather had been an employee/librarian at The Smithsonian in the 1890's and somewhere in a box I had about 15 letters from a wonderful artist named William Henry Holmes. In this correspondence Holmes wrote back to Washington from Arizona and Colorado regarding his mission to go west and, among other things, draw the Grand Canyon. This guy really captured it too... To learn about him and see some of his work check out his Wikipedia page: William Henry Holmes
Anyway, as I reread his letters, I started feeling and imagining what he might have felt like out there on the road. Mix that in with Woody's story and a great hike through the red rocks of Sedona and this song is the result.