I know of a world where farmers were moved by the land’s beauty to poetry and song. I see a world where farmers break out again into a joyful refrain. And may they carry spirit of this song in their hearts.
Gearing up for Earth Day…. This is a Farmer’s Anthem.
My grandfather Rupert Stephens was a gentle soul with 2 passions, organic farming and writing songs. He also wrote about farming. Grandpa’s most beautiful songs are (arguably) those about the Earth. He wrote “This Earth is Mine’ in the 1950s.
Last year, on Vancouver Island where the song was born, I re-recorded ‘This Earth is Ours’ changing the lyric slightly. My dad Arran recited the second verse as indicated in a creased, fragile, old lyrics sheet found in some random book. It had been type-written by my grandmother the glamorous Gwendolyn who loved the feel of dirt in her hands.
I got in touch with the amazing guitarist Adam Dobres. We took up the tempo, gave it a Joan Baez ‘Silver Dagger’ – feel with full vocal vibrato and Adam playing a wicked folk-rendition on his guitar.
Grandpa Rupert passed away when I was a toddler. When my dad Arran announced the event of the birth of his granddaughter (ie: moi), Grandpa Rupert was delighted. But when they told him my name, he didn’t say anything.
He must have been at the origin of the Stephens’ refrain of “Before you speak, ask yourself first, ‘Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?'” Grandpa Rupert really didn’t like my name.
Awww. Sniff. (I don’t blame him, it was a name that I found hard to wear growing up on the West side of Vancouver.)
A little afterwards, Grandpa Rupert told dad about a bird cooing outside his window. The bird was singing ‘G-Deep! G-Deep!’ And that did it. If the birds were singing my name, it was a sign. After that Grandpa Rupert loved my name.
I love him through his music and his earnest joy and romantic ideals of respect for the land and especially for the ‘lowly earthworm’.