MY LIFE IN A SONG: A friend in the wild


BP Drawing by Sara Adatto

The cover of the album ‘Flower Boy’ by Tyler the Creator.

By Avi Litvak, Staff Writer

My mom told me that wearing headphones on a hike was likely not a great idea, nor was hiking alone for that matter. But our family trip to Yosemite coincided with a personal musical renaissance I was having and I couldn’t waste an opportunity to listen in such a scenic environment.

In addition, I was tired of my entire family’s impenetrable selection of classic rock for the six-hour drive up, during which I was not allowed to choose a single song. I liked the Grateful Dead before that trip. But the 15-minute long, endless live cut of “Fire on the Mountain” that my father refused to turn off was pushing it.

That’s why the first morning that we were there I needed time to play music of my own.

As I approached the trailhead, I pressed play on my favorite album at the time, Flower Boy, by Tyler, the Creator. The opening notes were pulsating against my eardrums, the beats synchronized with my steps. I had to speed up for that effect but it was worth it.

I’ve always felt that half of an album is the album cover. The art adds a new layer of meaning to any song, and the experience of a song with a lazy cover is less captivating. Flower Boy does not have that problem. The cover portrays Tyler standing in a field of sunflowers, with bees flying around him. It’s peaceful, and the listener feels that peace seeing it. Even though it was a brisk, sub-60 degree morning, the album made me feel warm.

After about 40 minutes of hiking, I walked up to what was labeled as a “scenic viewpoint,” where there was a lone picnic table waiting for someone to sit down. Endless granite cliffs stretching for miles before my eyes, pine trees embedding the landscape. It worked perfectly with the lyrics as I started the album over again.

See I was never into the beaches and all the sands, see I was in the woods with flowers.

I sat for a minute, but I remembered that my family told me to be back before 8 o’clock. I was also in the middle of the forest and it would be miles before I’d have cell connection again. Standing up and wandering back to the path, I heard the beginning of the quintessential song on the album, “Where This Flower Blooms.”

Now I roll through Okaga, I ride to California…

I felt like the song was describing me. Yosemite, the most beautiful place in California surrounding me, as the lyrics describe exactly what I’m experiencing.

It was at this moment, when I felt completely peaceful, that out of the dark behind the trees, a menacing puma advanced towards me, staring me right in the eye.

I didn’t feel scared. I stared right back at it, and neither of us moved. The music was still playing in my ears, “Run it, run it, run it,” with each word traveling back and forth between my left and right ears.

The puma walked away, as if I had politely asked it to. I walked back down the trail, and each hiker I passed had no idea about the encounter I just had.

I can still hear the notes ringing through my head, and every time I hear “Where This Flower Blooms,” I can’t help but be reminded of my friend that I made on the mountain that day.