Performer: Chris Cornell
Songwriter: Chris Cornell
Original Release: Great Expectations: The Album
Definitive Version: None
The house where Debbie and I lived was in a newer development, but the back yard abutted a development that had been there since the ’60s. So, our back yard had a bunch of trees, whereas across the street, there was about nothing except grass.
We had a ton of wildlife visit us, which meant that we had a ton of bird feeders and birdhouses hanging off our deck or in the middle of the yard or hanging off trees. Over the years, we must have seen hundreds if not thousands of birds, and Debbie took hundreds if not thousands of photos of the birds—and the occasional punk squirrel for variety’s sake.
It was rare to find a nest in our trees, because they were either rail-thin ash trees where the closest branch to the ground was 20 feet up or dogwoods that provided no protection. But we still saw plenty of baby birds. In fact, I might have seen one the day it left the nest.
I was working out back on a bright, sunny weekday just before lunch when as I was coming around to the front, I saw this brown blur zip low to the ground from the golden euonymous to the gigantic rose of Sharon bush that marked the front corner of our lot—a distance of maybe 12 feet.
Being the curious type, I went over to take a look, but as I started to pry apart the bush with my hands, I could see—and hear very clearly—a male cardinal chattering like crazy and flying back and forth in the locust tree that towered over the entire front yard. There was a reason for that, and I soon discovered it: The brown blur was a baby cardinal. It was sitting on one of the branches, peeping softly. It had no tail or markings, but the makings of a tiny tuft on its head was the giveaway.
Right at about that time, Debbie pulled into the driveway on her lunch break, and I motioned for her to come over and have a peek. She was about giddy to see a baby cardinal. And, of course, the entire time the male cardinal above was going nuts, doing anything to try and draw our attention.
Before long, we withdrew and as soon as we were out of sight (but still watching), the male zoomed right down to where we had been. That’s why male cardinals are so bright, and why it was flitting about so noisily. It was doing whatever it could to distract us from the baby: Look up here, look how bright I am and how cheery my song is. Nothing to see down there; it’s all up here.
I don’t remember whether I had this song, just sent to me via CD from a collection of requested songs that Scott downloaded from Napster, on my Walkman at the time, but it sure seems to fit.