In the summer of ’75, Michael Martin Murphy’s song Wildfire was in heavy rotation. I suspect that the mention of “a cold Nebraska night” was incentive for Omaha’s 59 WOW to play the song roughly 4000 times each day.
There’s an interesting story behind the writing of the song, and I understand it’s experiencing something of a comeback on Christian radio stations because of the perceived symbolism in the lyrics. The song is about an old Nebraska homesteader in the 19th century who dreams of being taken away from his hard luck life on the back of Wildfire, a spirit horse searched for endlessly by a ghost girl who haunts the lonesome prairie.
With its haunting but upbeat melody, I remember liking the song well enough. That said, the endless repetition wore it out for me. For a decade or two at least.
Wildfire, like so most songs from the 60s and 70s has been digitally sanitized and is available from dozens of crystal clear venues. But for me, the haunting static of AM radio was part of those songs. Sometimes obscuring the lyrics (I thought Fleetwood Mac’s song Rhiannon was “Green Heaven.”), sometimes making me think one song (Band on the Run or Stairway to Heaven) was two different songs– if the lightning flashed at just the right minute.
I listen to instrumental music when I write, leaving the vocals for more mundane tasks like driving or cleaning. But the songs and stories of endless hours listening to the radio when I was young continue to inform everything I do and everything I write.