In my searches for people connected to the California condor, one person’s name surprised me by appearing in 2 different contexts.
Among the graduate theses that I have identified concerning the California condor is one by Karla Kane, completed at the University of Wales (!). That same Karla Kane also creates wonderful music, some of which makes a condor connection.
Karla Kane is the lead vocalist of The Corner Laughers, a California-based group that describes its music this way: “Clever wordplay, magical melodies and heartbreaking harmonies”.
One song on the 2012 album Poppy Seeds is the “Bells of El Camino”. The music and lyrics are by Kane.
The song offers a modern-day, for-better-and-worse tour of California along Highway 101. This highway roughly follows the route of the “king’s road” that linked the Catholic missions of 2 centuries ago. The 101 has long been marked by bells (which I remember counting on long car journeys when I was young).
Here’s the song’s refrain:
Follow the bells of El Camino
Follow the royal highway through
Mission to mission, my intuition says they will lead me home to you
One of the song’s verses speaks to the power of the California condor story:
There’s smoke choking the valley and the surf is poison-tossed
But when the condors somehow rallied then hope is not all lost
The peak of Tamalpais meets the bottom of the sky
And though the author’s view is biased it’s perfect in her eye
That verse resonates with my perspective on my home state.
An earlier album, Ultraviolet Garden (2009), includes “Thunderbird”, a song not credited to Kane but surely inspired by her academic research. (The song is credited to The Corner Laughers’ bassist/keyboardist Khoi Huynh and Rhoades.)
A review of Ultraviolet Garden (from Icon Magazine) says:
“Thunderbird” is an addictive gem, a history of mankind as seen through the eyes of a mythical beast …
To my mind, that beast is not so mythical. Here are some of the lyrics of “Thunderbird”, sung by Kane in her fine voice:
I was alive with the saber-toothed tiger
I ate a mastodon every night
I was the one who would be the survivor
Up in the sky at the highest of heights
My eyes made lightning
My wings made thunder
Do you ever wonder?
Neither do I
I was around when the world was discovered
Now I believe I’ll be saying goodbye
I saw them come with their smoke and their fire
I watched the slaughter of innocent lives
Biding my time as they built their empires
Who could have guessed that the humans would thrive
Their guns make lightning
Their planes make thunder
Do you ever wonder?
Neither do I
Those lyrics strike a solid California condor chord in me.
(Bird/music enthusiasts take note: In addition to the birds on the album art, some of the songs of The Corner Laughers involve turkey vultures, cormorants, passenger pigeons, and more.)
For the details of Karla Kane’s graduate thesis, see the post Graduate theses.
Among the many other posts on this blog celebrating creators and their art are
For more about music inspired by the California condor, click on the MUSIC button under FIND CONTENT (somewhere on this screen – it depends on your device). I plan a future post with additional examples of popular music.