On the warm summer night of August 2, 2017 at the Qualico Patio Series live outdoor music show set behind Festival Place in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Folk* band Scott Cook and the Second Chances had a way of getting into the audience’s hearts. The song that meant the most to me was Among the Trees, a ballad in which Scott Cook captured childhood through specific events and vivid imagery.
The only video I found online of the song is from 2016, where Scott Cook sings minus the Second Chances with a lone banjo for accompaniment. The addition of the other musicians at the patio show added dimension to this song.
There are also no lyrics on the Web for Among the Trees that I could find, so I wrote them out myself from Scott Cook’s YouTube video (below).
Among the Trees. I did all of these things as a child. I have also wondered where the magic goes when we grow up. Worries about money, jobs, and survival crowd our lives. We wear ourselves out working instead of living.
If you’re looking for escapism, escape into this world. Ponder these lyrics (below). As I’d mentioned, I did all of those things. From my own childhood, I can still smell earthy wet leaves on a forest path, pine needles on the wind, melting snow with the promise of spring, rocks baking in the sun, fresh apples and blueberries. I can taste candy cigarettes and sponge toffee, and hear hockey cards clicking in my bike spokes (my purple field/pond/woods exploration bike with banana seat and thick tires). Why were these moments important? Because I could just be. Feel what it was to be alive. Explore, imagine, invent. Solve problems and build things with unobstructed time to think, experiment, and revise. Seek respite from an imperfect and sometimes painful world.
As kids, we came to know ourselves; we built foundations outside the shadow of an uncertain future. I bottled the beauty and the feeling, forever carrying them on my journey through adulthood.
How many times since then have I looked into that kaleidoscope of peace and happiness, an oasis from which to draw strength when the “weight pulled [my kite] down”? More times than I can count. In addition to nostalgia, this song holds an important message: children need childhood because it builds their resilience. Thanks to the “leaf-covered trails” and other treasures of my childhood, even if isolated, I am still able to see the “rainbow in a piece of glass / Dewdrops in the tall grass.”
What did you do as a child? What are your special memories? Let me know in the comments. I love hearing from you.
Among the Trees
Lyrics by Scott Cook
Remember when we played among the trees
Through pinecones and skinned our knees
Built forts out of sticks
And boats out of paper ‘n’ wood
The days lasted so long
Lots of games had their own song
And up until dinner time
We had the run of the neighbourhood
There was a rainbow in a piece of glass
Dewdrops in the tall grass
Dark smells and shade, and a puddle of water
In an old rubber tire
And a hiding place inside it
And anywhere your bones fit
Inside every story was somethin’ to fight against
And someone to admire
And the TV signed off at night
But you could read with the flashlight
And games just took cards or chalk
Or jacks in a box
We played grownup with candy smokes
And hockey cards in our bike spokes
And climb in a maple tree
The seeds would helicopter as they’d fall
We’d always known
But if we knew what it was worth
Would we have traded it for trinkets
From the company store?
I ain’t sayin’ it was Heaven
But at least it was Earth
We don’t taste much o’ that anymore
What weight pulled our kites down
What fear drove us from the playground
Convinced us there’s only one game
And the point is to win it
What modesty clipped our wings
Traded our dreams for things
Led from leaf-covered trails
To a road with no poetry in it
And can we find our way back somehow
Or has our imagination failed us now
Here with the world at our fingertips
Door are locked and shades drawn
Can we catch a wild breeze again
Are there still faraways in the wind
Stories worth believing
Dreams worth betting everything on
AMONG THE TREES — Scott Cook
Lyrics belong to Scott Cook. Posted on YouTube by Able Videomultimedia on Jan. 12, 2016.
“Recorded on the Twin Falls rainforest walk in the world heritage listed Springbrook National Park, Queensland, Australia, in the hinterland behind the Gold Coast.”
*Scott Cook is often categorized as a country singer, but he considers himself folk.
“A roots balladeer with a rare personal warmth, Canada’s Scott Cook has managed to distil the stories collected over a decade of touring across Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia into straight-talking, keenly observant verse. Road-worn, painfully honest, and deeply human, his tunes weave threads of folk, roots, blues, soul and country over spacious fingerstyle guitar and clawhammer banjo arrangements . . .” Scott Cook bio (2015)
P.S. I “smoked” Popeye Tasty Cigarettes (now called Popeye Tasty Candy Sticks) as a child and never became a smoker.