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*7.26-CLOUD SONG (United States of America)

United States of America

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[Intro]

How sweet to be a cloud,
Floating in the blue.

It makes him very proud
To be a little cloud.

[Refrain & scat]

[Refrain]

It makes us very proud.
To be a little cloud.

[Refrain]

[Coda]


Cloud Song is about as minimalist in lyric as psychedelic music gets. Except for a change a pronoun, the song remains within the structure of a repeated quatrain, sometimes with the initial couplet repeated on its own. It says little, but combined with rich electronic instrumentation which sounds like a duet between a lute and a violin, and Dorothy Moskowitz’ ethereal voice, it seems more than ample to illuminate the carefree feelings of contemplating a cloud while lying flat on one’s back looking up at the sky. (This is a favorite activity while tripping on hallucinogens.) The instrumental arrangement sounds like a Chinese Shui-mo or watercolor, with both its utter simplicity and beguiling intricacies changing shape with the wind. The song ends with the electronically produced sound of wind, as if the little cloud is blown out of sight. George Starostin wrote in his blog Only Solitaire that Cloud Song seemed to pick up where the Beatles’ song Flying ended. Flying was an instrumental released on the Magical Mystery Tour album in November 1967.

Clouds were a frequent metaphor in the late 1960s. As early as October 1966, Simon & Garfunkel released the folk song Cloudy, and about the time the United States of America were recording Cloud Song, the best of cloud poems, Both Sides Now written by Joni Mitchell and sung by Judy Collins, was on the Top 40 charts. Of course, they all use the metaphor for different purposes, but Cloud Song is most closely related to a cut from the July 1967 album 5000 Spirits or Layers of the Onion by the Incredible String Band called Little Cloud, which is included in the Trance Love Airwaves collection. In fact, both songs use the same initial couplet, drawn from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. [As a side note, it is worth pointing out the Milne’s Pooh was the inspiration for a couple of Jefferson Airplane songs as well: The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil on After Bathing at Baxter’s in December 1967 and The House at Pooneil Corners on Crown of Creation in September 1968. Neither of these songs, however, is included in this survey of psychedelic music.]

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