Spirit – Nature’s Way

This is a song that I had forgotten about until Aphoristical brought it up on his blog a few months ago. The song that I remember the most by Spirit is the popular I Got a Line on You. I remember hearing this when I was a kid on the radio.

It wasn’t a big hit…it peaked at #111 in the Billboard 100 in 1971. The song was on the album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. It peaked at #63 in the Billboard Album Charts, #49 in Canada, and  #29 in the UK. The album is named after a 1963 horror movie called Dr. Sardonicus.  Five years after its release, and with the original lineup split up, the album went gold.

Spirit guitarist and songwriter Randy California wrote “Nature’s Way” in San Francisco one afternoon while the band waited to perform at the Fillmore Auditorium. That environmental anthem coincided with the inaugural Earth Day celebration, becoming the first pop song to seriously address concerns about pollution and ecological problems.

At 15, Randy California (Randy Craig Wolfe) played guitar for Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, the New York band led by Jimi Hendrix…Hendrix dubbed him Randy California to avoid confusing him with another band member named Randy Palmer.

From Songfacts

This song is a reflection on mortality, and also a lament for the fate of the Earth, as nature is telling us that something is wrong. 

It was a very personal song, and in some ways, his maxim. The song deals with how nature guides you, and that’s just what he did throughout his career. Spirit reached #25 US in 1969 with “I Got A Line On You,” a track from their second album, but the group remained on the fringes of breakout success, in part because they turned down an invitation to play Woodstock.

California got heavy into LSD and became even more mercurial. In 1970, he was riding a horse on the streets of Topanga Canyon when he fell off and fractured his skull. The same year, he wrote “Nature’s Way,” which was included on Spirit’s fourth album, Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus. California left the group in 1972 and the band splintered soon after. Sardonicus found a following and eventually sold over a million copies, prompting an iff-fated band reunion in 1976. California died in 1997 when he drowned while swimming in Hawaii.

David Briggs, who was one of Neil Young’s producers, produced this track. The back was dealing with a lot of internecine conflict at the time, and Briggs helped keep them focused and productive enough to complete the album.

Randy California recorded various versions of this song as a solo artist. In interviews, he sometimes talked about never being able to get it right.

This song is unusual in that every line begins with the phrase “It’s nature’s way.”

Nature’s Way

It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song

It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong

It’s nature’s way of telling you, soon we’ll freeze
It’s nature’s way of telling you, dying trees

It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong
It’s nature’s way, it’s nature’s way
It’s nature’s way, it’s nature’s way

It’s nature’s way of telling you
It’s nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you
It’s nature’s way of telling you
In a song, oh-h

It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way
It’s nature’s way of telling you
Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

15 thoughts on “Spirit – Nature’s Way”

  1. I remember the song from the classic rock station in Toronto… they played it quite a bit in the ’80s or ’90s, but I wouldn’t have been able to name the band. They’re probably best known for that lawsuit against Led zeppelin for the perceived plagiarism in ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know that is what they are most famous for… and I Got A Line On You

      off topic: I’ll be back later today to comment on your baseball post. I thought I did but apparently not.

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  2. I was not familiar with this song, or with the band Spirit. I looked Randy California up on Wikipedia and learned that he drowned while trying to save his 12 year old son in the ocean off the Hawaiian Island of Molokai. He managed to save his son, but he didn’t make it. So tragic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know some of their songs but not their catalog. I think they are more known now for the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin about Stairway to Heaven. That is beyond sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shoutout. This is my favourite Spirit song – Ferguson and California sound so good singing together. It’s crazy how young California was – Twelve Dreams is the best Spirit album with the original lineup because California had turned 18 and was old enough to dominate the songwriting and sing more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What Dave said, as I remember this song also. There is some fuzzy noise coming out on this song, but I am sure it was intentional. I had to look up the word internecine, as I was not familiar with it.

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    1. They…or the songwriter’s estate sued Led Zeppelin for Stairway to Heaven…they have been mentioned for that recently

      Like

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