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Well, this was a particularly hard assignment. While there are some songs that celebrate nature most songs deal with the elements of nature symbolically. Happiness, sadness, love, loss all have been connected to emotional moments both high and low using nature symbolically.

Here’s a quick summary of songs that are celebrations of nature in all its glory.

Mountains seem to be popular in songwriting. And notable songs with mountains as their theme includes Rodgers and Hart’s “Mountain Greenery” from The Garrick Gaieties (that show wasn’t recorded so take a listen to Ella Fitzgerald singing it). A flop show with a very good score (and great vocal arrangements) is A Time for Singing (this cast recording isn’t available digitally, but you can buy it here) by John Morris and Gerald Freedman, and it’s perfectly expressed by Ivor Emmanuel when he gives his all in “The Mountains Sing Back.”  Meredith Willson wrote “The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Car’line” for The Music Man but sadly it was cut.

Alan Jay Lerner and Kurt Weill’s Love Life extolled the wonders of spring in “Green Up Time,” which got a swell rendition by Weill’s wife Lotte Lenya. E.Y. Harburg and Sammy Fain also had spring on their minds with Flahooley’s “The Springtime Cometh.” And what’s growing in spring? Flowers and trees.

Flowers are always good subjects for songwriters. Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner’s superior score for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever has Barbara Harris imploring flowers that it can’t be fun subterranean so they should “Hurry! It’s Lovely Up Here.” “Windflowers” from Jerome Moross and John Latouche’s The Golden Apple sadly is not in more performers’ repertoires. It’s a gorgeous ballad. Albert Hague and Allan Sherman’s The Fig Leaves Are Falling was another flop with pretty good songs. And that show’s “Today I Saw a Rose” is especially meaningful. Diahann Carroll sings so sweetly in House of Flowers, and the title song is particularly beautiful. Its opposite is “The Flower Garden of My Heart,” with typically acerbic lyrics by Lorenz Hart set to a particularly bump and grind style melody by Richard Rodgers for Pal Joey.

Trees get their due in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon with “I Talk to the Trees” as sung with brio by Tony Bavaar. Protection of said trees was on the mind of Irving Berlin in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1911 when Bert Williams sang, “Woodman, Spare That Tree.” An opposite song about protecting trees from men with axes was Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg’s “Song of the Woodman” in The Show Is On as sung by Bert Lahr when he chopped, chopped, chopped.

And what makes the flowers and trees grow out of the ground? Rain of course. And it’s especially important to the plot of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s 110 in the Shade. The character of Starbuck claims to make the rain fall in torrents from the sky and sings about it in the aptly named “Rain Song.” Ruby Hill and Harold Nicholas shone in the Arlen and Mercer show St. Louis Woman. “Come Rain or Come Shine” became an instant standard from that show’s score. Tommy Steele—in David Heneker’s Half a Sixpence—implored the gods that “If the Rain’s Got to Fall” it shouldn’t fall in Folkstone.

Rain means rainbows, of course. And the late, lamented Danny Fortus gave a tenderly impassioned performance in Minnie’s Boys when he sang Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman’s “Mama, a Rainbow” (you can hear this on a Broadway Boys album) to Shelley Winters. A sweet song that is all the more emotional given Fortus’ death from AIDS. 1918’s Oh, Look! featured “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” by Joseph McCarthy and Harry Carroll. It was performed in that show by the Dolly Sisters but you might know it from the 1973 revival of Irene where it was sung by Debbie Reynolds.

There’s lots more of course but give a listen to the songs mentioned above and I guarantee you’ll find some gems that are worth remembering no matter what the season or what the weather.


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