Thursday, June 24, 2021

Song of the Day: 'Spirit of the Forest' by Spirit of the Forest

Honest to god, if you had bet me everything I own -- plus my husband and cat -- that Debbie Harry, Olivia Newton-John, Belinda Carlisle, Kim Wilde, Kate Pierson, Holly Beth Vincent and a host of other (212) favorites had done a charity single in the late '80s I would be living on the street with a broken heart right now, because that's exactly what happened. While digging through Getty Images to try to figure out the date and photographer of a photo of Deb I posted yesterday I stumbled upon a folder labeled "Rainforest Alliance Recording Session" -- huh? -- which led me to the video of "Spirit of the Forest" by Spirit of the Forest, a single benefiting the Earth Love Fund, "to make people aware of the need for conservation of the rainforest." Keep reading BELOW.

In addition to my aforementioned gals, the project also included Joni Mitchell, Brian Wilson, Donna Summer, Kate Bush, Thomas Dolby, The Ramones, Iggy Pop(!), Taylor Dayne, Big Country, L.L. Cool J, Lisa Bonet, Lenny Kravitz, Richard Page (Mr. Mister), Marc Jordan, Mick Fleetwood, Billy Burnett, Rita Coolidge, Michael Des Barres, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Bowens (Was Not Was), Ivan Lins, Amy Sky, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Ringo Starr, Jon Anderson (Yes), XTC, Fish (Marillion), Louise Goffin, Chris Rea, Mark Brezezicki, Nathan Moore (Brother Beyond), Sam Brown, Trevor Steele (Escape Club), Andy Fairweather Lowe, Bruce Foxton (The Jam), Frank Dunnery (It Bites), Shikisha, Johnny Warman, Lacy J. Dalton, Afrika Bambaataa, Richie Havens, David Clayton-Thomas, Little Steven, Africa Bambaataa, Jungle Brothers, Richie Stats (Plasmatics), Dolette McDonald, Raging Hormones, plus representatives of 10 Native American tribes.

RCA Studio in New York City on April 2, 1989. (Photos by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

This lineup is about as good as these things get -- at this point no one wanted to not be seen as a do-gooder! -- so what went wrong? While it's tempting to fault benefit fatigue for this project's quick fade into obscurity -- Band Aid, USA for Africa, Farm Aid, Artists United Against Apartheid, Hear N' Aid, No More Landmine, the Council Collective (raising money for striking U.K. miners) et al. were all vying for attention -- it's hard not to think the dud of a song (penned by Kenny Young of "Under the Boardwalk" fame) was really to blame. (Love 'em or hate 'em, "Do They Know It's Christmas?," "We Are the World" and "Sun City" were catchy and I'm just now hearing about this 32 years later?!) Such a shame given the cause, which has only grown more dire in the ensuing decades.

Is it sung from the point of view of a ... tree?!!! All that talent in one room and this is what they were stuck with? Only Kate Bush manages to come out of this unscathed! 

If anyone knows more, please leave a comment. The project doesn't even have a Wikipedia page.

For her part, Belinda Carlisle continued to fight for environmental causes. In 1990, her management got a call from Jane Fonda's people asking if Belinda could get the Go-Go’s back together for a benefit to get a green initiative on the ballot in California and reform they did.

This explains why everyone isn't in the same place.


DC said...

Okay, you completely edumacated me with “Spirit of the Forrest.” I had Never heard about that. CrAZy.

James said...

I vaguely remember the project, but I had never heard the song. Nice singing by all concerned, but what atrocious lyrics. Almost like self-parody. The producers should have said, "Give us a donation, or we'll force you to sit through the video": They would have made millions!

Forest Gump said...

This is bonkers! To have Olivia, Kate, Donna and a Stevie Nicks representative in the same “room” is a fever dream. To have it end up being something you might hear on a loop in a Rainforest Cafe bathroom is a nightmare.