Everett Ruess

March 16, 2018

 

 

On tour through Utah heading west in 2002, I was given a book entitled, "Everett Ruess, A Vagabond for Beauty." I fell in love with Everett story and his wonderful gift for luminous and ecstatic descriptions of the beauty of the Southwest desert and canyon lands. I felt such a compelling story deserved a song. 

 

Shortly after completing this song I was invited to perform for an Arts Festival created in honor of Everett. Attending the inaugural event was Everett's older brother and confidant Waldo Ruess as well as other Ruess family members. It was an honor to sing this song for the family, and to feel in some small way connected to the genius of Everett Ruess. 

 

These lyrics are in part  informed and inspired by Everett writings.

 

Everett Ruess

 

In the spring of nineteen-thirty, at sixteen years of age
With a restlessness inside, I hitched out of L.A.
I hiked upon the coastline, and under lofty pines
By the mournful crash of breakers, my sleep was deep and fine
I wondered and I wandered, out to Yosemite
Shoe leather on the mountains, I vagabond for beauty, for beauty 

 

In the year of thirty-one, I turned seventeen
And heard the desert calling me, from Monument Valley
I tramped behind my burros, Pegasus and Pericles
With my pencils and my paintbrush, I went where I pleased

Oh the warm and perfect colors, my eyes did behold
And the wild raging silence, my heart did enfold, unresisting 

 

From Kayenta east to Shiprock, the scarlet cactus blooms
And the smell of sage is sweet, by the Mesa Verde moon
My solitude unbroken, I’m roaring drunk with life
All the world a riot of sensual delight
Here in the utter stillness high on a lonely cliffs edge
Where the air trembles with lightning I give the wind my pledge, my pledge

 

I shall sing my song above the shriek of desert winds
Burned and starved and weary, I’ll sing out again
I’ll never leave the grace that haunts me everyday
On the canyon trail I have found my way, my way 

 

November thirty-four I left Escalante town
Something in me knows that I am glory bound
Across the Colorado River to the Arizona side
All that you will know was that I found my ride
My body will expire in the golden burning light
A moth into the flame of a starry, starry night 

 

Here in the utter stillness high on a lonely cliffs edge
Where the air trembles with lightning I give the wind my pledge, my pledge

 

By Dana Robinson - July 19th 2003

 

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