“The wind just kinda pushed me this way”

So, then, it was later in August 1987 sometime, not quite sure when, but the same year I’d moved my young life from the security of home to the heat of countless Arkansas skies, many with boasts of relentless sun by day and others with frenetic dances of heat lightening by night.

Somewhere during that sometime I impulsively purchased Robbie Robertson’s self-titled CD. Knowing next to nothing about him added to the mystery of the songs, lightly themed together with the soulful storyteller’s musings of a mythical landscape influenced from the neighborhoods of his youth. 

The cover alone seemed to intrigue me. Still not sure why as that disc joined a rather short list of impulsive buys I’d made.

Across four years of living in dorms – Armstrong and Keller – this CD was brought out more occasionally than other discs and vinyls. It was music that was wealthy in honesty and bankrupt of pretense – presumably because Robertson was a musician’s musician. Celebrity, which had been achieved fronting The Band or guitaring for Bob Dylan wasn’t intended here.

Whenever it was spun on my JVC 6+1 deck, it had to be nighttime – or at least, evening with hints of color out the westward windows of Keller 210A. Often, it was with the windows down so what was played could drift away to be caught by those passing by, willing to pause and take a little of it in. 

Can’t say anyone did, though the breeze often wafted back in to listen beneath the colored lights hanging from our dorm room’s loft. Even so, sonic courtesies such as this were routinely extended to anyone below from my roommate David and I. Just in case.

This CD was held back so we’d never tire of it, kept fresh and gently appreciated, not indulged. It was at once mystical and aloof, earthy and organic, drawing influences from Robertson’s native American heritage and blending them with dissettled temperaments of delta blues and the stirring elements of great western plains, along with a few sonic sensibilities “of the era” peppered in. For whatever reasons, that music retreated deep into my mind as the CD itself was consigned to a nearly forgotten moving box from house to house. 

Strange, though, that so often a song from that CD would wander into my memory, though I hadn’t listened to it in so long, so very, very long. Haunting me as ghosts, perhaps, but I like it… it’s good.

So, now, it’s late on August 9th, 2023, not quite sure why. Students are moving their young lives from the security of homes to the heat of countess more Arkansas skies above my alma mater – among many skies above lands south and north, west and east.

It’s nighttime here, 10:53 pm, 71° outside.
That CD? It’s is streaming over my laptop.

But my bedroom windows facing the northwest are closed. No courtesies to extend at this hour, no one out playing games with this night.

Goodnight, Mr. Robertson.

Robbie passed away today, 80 years young.

Even though this gem in the soundtrack of my life lives on, passages such as his today reawaken the yearning – and mourning – for a long-gone lively past that began for me later in August 1987 sometime. Not quite sure when such feelings began to well up within me, but it was long before now. 

The impulses of this record, and this particular song, alone seem to intrigue me still… like those breezes slipping out our dorm room windows and the wind coming back around, just kinda pushing me…

Keeping me spellbound…

Held in trances…



Excerpt from the song Somewhere Down the Crazy River, by Robbie Robertson. ©1987 Geffen Entertainment.

Blog Post Copyright © 2023 Joel Cranford.

Written by Joe Cranford

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