An important anniversary just passed for the greatest film ever produced in Hollywood. The first screening of Margaret Mitchell’s classic novel Gone With the Wind turned seventy years old in mid-December of 2009.
One of the movie networks showed Gone With the Wind on the celebrated night, so decided to watch the film again for the first time in several years. My mom, a Southerner, has always considered it her favorite film. I believe it was the first movie her mother, my grandmother, ever saw in a theater.
I persuaded my own daughter, now 15, to watch the film with me. She of course was skeptical, but she was relieved that the film was at least in color, unlike many of the films she nags me for watching. She enjoyed the movie more as Vivian Leigh’s character developed. My daughter was tickled when Rhett’s last line came up, declaring that he didn’t give a damn what happened to Miss O’ Hara.
After the film I began assembling a list of the best songs to honor Gone With the Wind. Fittingly, several of them come from an artist who has actually been around longer than the film itself.
10. “Hasten Down the Wind” by Warren Zevon: This is one of the unknown gems from the self-titled predecessor to Excitable Boy, Zevon’s breakthrough album. “Hasten reveals Zevon’s often overlooked serious side along with a breezy pop rhythm.
9. “Whispering Wind” by John Gorka: The song itself resembles the wind, as Gorka’s husky vocal seems to whisper his winsome folk lyrics. It is a perfect spice for the musical entrée that is served up on his latest album So Dark You See.
8. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan: The legend has written much better songs since this sixties folk anthem, but it did place him on the road to becoming a star.
7. “The Wind Cries Mary” by Jimi Hendrix: The soft pace of Hendrix’s electric guitar makes this song a pleasant diversion from his flashier recordings.
6. “Windy” by The Association: Probably the best-know among the group’s many hits, no song is as singable as this ditty about someone who trips down streets of our city.
5. “Mandolin Wind” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range: I bought the album only because Joe Puerta of Ambrosia had joined Hornsby’s band. When I listened to its folky pop, I knew I had made a smart purcase.
4. “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas: The song from Point of Know Return” sounds more intelligent than it really is, but the message becomes even more dire when backed by the funereal acoustic guitar and violin.
3. “Four Winds” by Bright Eyes: The best song from Casadega has both great lyrics and a vibrant rhythm. I love Conor Oberst’s great line, “The Bile ib blind, the Torah is deaf, the Quaran is mute/If you burned them all together you’d get close to the truth.”
2. “Catch the Wind” by Donovan: The acoustic song from Donovan’s pre-pstchadelic days sounds as if it were recorded by a British Bob Dylan, and the lyrics about elusive love could also have been penned by Dylan.
1. “Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan: Dylan wrote many mean songs, but this one is the meanest. He inserts no humor to ease the scathing lyrics aimed at anyone from the media to past loves to his fanatical fans. When he screams, “You’re an idiot babe, it’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe,” you realize that this song is the violence that caused the Blood on the Tracks.