EXTRA *** Sunflower, by Sam Payne

EXTRA *** Sunflower, by Sam Payne

The Apple Seed

  • Apr 11, 2020 2:00 am
  • 8:20 mins

Like you, we’ve been self-isolating, and, like you, looking for ways to reach out to our fellow humans. Sam has posted to social media a little song every day – something filled with a little hope and a little encouragement to hang on. We thought we’d bring you some of those pieces here, as Apple Seed Extras. These aren’t studio recordings, and you’ll be able to tell – they’re made with an iPad. Still, we’re happy to bring them to you here on The Apple Seed. Here’s what Sam says about today’s song: “The summer I turned 13, I was cast in a local production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music. It was directed by Joan Lindsay, a dynamo of productivity in local theater – she directed a lot of the shows we were in as kids. And this one was performed in the very beautiful American Fork Amphitheater, one of those terrific depression-era works project Amphitheaters of which there are a couple in the valley where I grew up. Anyway, it was a terrific, kind of foundational experience for me – kind of the first time I’d been on stage in front of any kind of audience. Anyway, fast-forward to twenty years later. I’m living three hundred miles from my hometown, and I get a card in the mail – it’s an invitation to come and see a production of The Sound of Music at the American Fork Amphitheater, directed by Joan Lindsey, and even featuring a lot of the same folks who were in the show when I was in it – I mean, the folks who played kids when I was in the show were now playing nuns, or grown-up Nazis, or whatever, but they’ve tracked down most of the cast from the production when I was a kid, and those who aren’t in this 20-year anniversary show are invited to come and see the show, and attend a kind of reception afterward. And I decide I’d like to go. So I hit the road to drive the 300 miles to see the show. It’s me and my two-year-old. And the old Toyota has some car trouble, and we get it sorted out, but it makes us late for the show. In fact, we walk into the amphitheater just in time for the curtain call. And the music playing under the curtain call is a reprise of Eidelweiss, and I’m reminded of what a beautiful song that is. Rogers and Hamerstein wrote it, but it sounds like this kind of timeless folk song, this song that somehow captures the spirit and heart and patriotism of all of Austria in a song about one of its flowers. Well, I enjoyed the time with old friends, and my son and I slept at my Dad’s house, and in the morning, we climbed in the Toyota to head back home, 300 miles away. And I kept thinking about Eidelweiss, and what the Eidelweiss of my homeland would be. And the State Flower of Utah is the Sego Lily, and despite its venerable history saving the lives of starving Utah settlers who dug and ate sego lily bulbs during times of starvation, I wasn’t feeling it.  But as I drove, I saw as if for the first time, growing along the desert freeway, along its sides and in the median, were thousands upon thousands of sunflowers. Willa Cather has Jim Burden talk about sunflowers in My Antonio. Burden says that he had heard a legend that sunflowers came out west with Mormon Settlers fleeing persecution in the east – that the Mormons cast sunflower seeds along the roads as they traveled. And Burden admits that the story is apocryphal, but that still, roads bordered with sunflowers have always seemed to him to be the roads of freedom. This song was born on that 300-mile drive, with my two-year old asleep in his carseat, and it was pretty much finished by the time I pulled in the driveway.” Here are the lyrics, in case you’d like to read along: Sunflower, looking like an exile, you and me so far from home Heaven knows how deep your story goes Flung like a freedom-seed against the guns behind you, look at you Got the desert now blooming like a rose So, little thing, lift your head to God and grow I think it’s enough for me, and I won’t let go Sunflower, pushing me a long now, you and I got far to go Heaven knows I’m weary hanging on Flung out among the sage, by my mama’s mama’s mama, look at you I can see right through you to the dawn So, little thing, lift your head to God and grow I think it’s enough for me, and I won’t let go Time to time the desert can bring me down Dry up my brain, brittle my bones Just like the hand of mercy you bring me ‘round A little yellow now and then never hurt me You know it’s nothing like a friend to desert me Sunflower, bringing on the daytime You and I must make it through Heaven knows I’m stronger than before Yellow all along the road like a beacon there before me Gonna see me safely through the war So, little thing, lift your head to God and grow I think it’s enough for me, and I won’t let go We’d love to know what you’re up to, how you’ve passed the time in an era of isolation. Did you recite Shakespeare monologues? Sing broadway show tunes? Tell family stories? Let us know, by emailing us at theappleseed@byu.edu. We love to hear from you, especially now. And thanks for joining us for an Apple Seed Extra. The producer of The Apple Seed is Jeff Simpson. I’m Sam Payne.