On Longing

  • Susan Greene is a reporter, editor and coach for the Colorado News Collaborative (COLab). She was editor and executive director of The Colorado Independent before it merged with COLab and a longtime reporter and metro columnist at The Denver Post. She was selected as a 2020-2021 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, and is the inaugural recipient of the Benjamin von Sternenfels Rosenthal Grant for Mental Health Investigative Journalism.

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Dear reader,

Tina and I have spent much of the last month knee-deep in documents for a difficult investigative project we’re still piecing together. So instead of a newsy newsletter, I offer a more personal one about a song I’ve been listening to lately and thoughts on where it takes me as I’m feeling restless, like many of you.

There are several versions of “Wild is the Wind,” including those by David Bowie and Johnny Mathis. I’m talking only about the one by the late, great Nina Simone. Do yourself a favor and take the six minutes and forty-nine seconds to play it. I have, over again so often in the last few weeks that my teenage sons and even our dog seem to leave the room whenever they hear those first few chords.

I’ve been playing it on our walks each morning, and while doing dishes or gardening in the evening. I play it late afternoons when the monsoon winds rock the hammock I work from in our backyard.

It played in my head Sunday while I was fishing a favorite spot on the Eagle River. Though the water is low this year, there are still parts deep enough to move you. It is the interplay between that cold rush and the act of bracing against it that I seek more than even catching something. The Eagle felt so good this week it brought me to tears. So does the moment each time I put a fish back in the water and it breaks away, all muscle and will and wonder.

Fishing is an act of hope, of yearning. And, in my book, nobody captures those feelings better than Simone. It is no coincidence “Wild is the Wind” speaks to me at a time when the air seems stale and so many of us are feeling stuck, one way or another.

“Let me fly away with you,” she sings – a line that slays me every time I hear it. So do the lyrics, “Like a leaf clings to a tree, oh my darling cling to me. For we’re creatures of the wind.”

Simone was as brilliant a classical pianist as a jazz singer. She spun up gusts of cool wind from her piano keys and served up an “Mmmm” (starting at 2:50) that’s more delicious than a Palisade peach. Here was a woman remarkable in her wholeness, but also unabashed in her longings, as if freed by them.

If there is an upside in this time of isolation and unrest, it is the poignancy of our yearning. We are, many of us, longing lately for somewhere else, something better, anything that moves us. And these days, even the smallest delights – a song, a stretch of river, a conversation with someone new – can seem that much sweeter, if you let them.

We promise we’ll have plenty of news for you. Our new roles have us working longer on more in-depth stories. In the meantime, please share with us at susan@colabnews.co whichever piece of music is moving you lately. Help us fly away with you, if only for a few minutes.

Our readers have always been a gift to us. Thank you for being one of them.

Susan Greene

This post was sent as a letter to our email subscribers on Aug. 6, 2020. Join our email list to learn more about COLab and the work we are doing.