Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Platters: "But Only God Can Make A Tree."

Early one morning, about two weeks ago, I saw a very old tree being trimmed along a road that I pass frequently. I have fallen in love with this tree and so have my grandchildren because whenever we walked up to it we would feel and touch the rough, scarred surface of its enormous trunk. 

Strangely, the tree seemed to react to our touch as some tiny pieces of bark and green moss would stick on our hands.  

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, 
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast.

                                                  This trunk feels to our touch.

When we asked the gardeners who were trimming it what had happened they explained that a thunderstorm which occurred a few days earlier had ripped part of it and, like a surgical knife, removed a large giant arm off.  This black stump lay quiet and still on the ground today.  

A tree that looks at God all day, 
And lifts her leafy arms to pray. 

Singapore is exceptional because this tiny little island, in ratio to its land mass, has more than enough trees everywhere; many were specially planted by its citizens. 

And November is a month for trees because that's when our first PM, Lee Kuan Yew,  consciously reminded every Singaporean to plant trees, lots of it, during this month. 

                           Promoting Trees On Jan's T.

At the same time, the month is also one where damp devastation takes place so when the monsoon blows and cries and sings its songs of woe, trees come down, forced by the destructive nature of the weather.  This wicked climate worsens in December and January.   

Upon whose bosom snow has lain, 
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

The beautiful growth is a heritage lychee tree that doesn't fruit under Singapore's condition.

Songs I Love:

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair...

Trees is a song by The Platters. It was recorded in 1961 and based on a poem written by Alfred Joyce Kilmer in 1913 and set to music by Oscar Rasbach in 1922.  This particular composition comes with 7 other songs by the group with Only You, one of 1001 songs you must hear before you die.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray


Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
(I think that I shall never see...)

Above is the large arm that was amputated by lightning.  Below is the aftermath
There are many songs about trees or lyrics that have the particular word in them. Here is a short list of 20:

Annie's Song - John Denver
Big Bad John - Jimmy Dean
Cottonwood Tree - Marty Robbins
Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree - Andrews Sisters
Draggin' The Line - Tommy James/The Shondells

Dream A Little Dream Of Me - Louis Armstrong
Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
Lemon Tree - Trini Lopez/Peter, Paul and Mary
Lemon Tree - Fool's Garden (1995)
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds - The Beatles
No More Walks In The Woods - Eagles
Norwegian Wood - The Beatles
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning - Ray Charles
Rockin Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee
The Happiest Christmas Tree - Nat King Cole

The Lumberjack Song - Monty Python
Tie A Yellow Ribbon...  - Tony Orlando/Dawn
Trees - The Platters
What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong
Wooden Heart - Elvis Presley
You and Me - Moody Blues

It is a heritage lychee tree.
This posting is especially for my 3 Jays, whose love for trees and most of nature takes them to the Botanical Gardens nearly every week.

Images and article: A Personal Collection.
You Tube 'Trees' by The Platters - Video from Mr. Tripeo47.
Poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer (1913)/ Music by Oscar Rasbach (1922). 
Book: Tony Visconti and Robert Dimery, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die.  (The Fifties Page 67). 

Lychee Tree Update: 7.7.17.

Passed by the same tree this morning and they are propping it up, like an old man with a walking stick. This tree, according to the workers, is 200 years old.

Great news because the tree might just crash to the ground during a storm. It will take about a month for reinforcement and about 8 workers are doing the hard labour.

It has been nearly 3 years since the first awareness post (above) has been put up. Visit this post again in a month's time and we'll meet the people who made this difficult job possible.
How our authorities saved a tree.

Before the job and afterwards when steel structures were erected to prop the lychee tree to its glory. Cheers.
IMAGES - A personal collection and the poster is a mix from Google and my own ideals. 


Jenny Goh said...

Hi Andy

That's beautiful. Enjoy the moments!


Sent from my iPhone

JAMES SEAH said...

Good one, Andy.

The heritage tree took many years, even decades to grow to such height. Looking at the trees grow tall like to watch our children grow big.

It was told that some people can talk to the plants which have feelings as living things; so too the trees.

Thank for sharing your meaningful blog and the song.

Best Regards.

CYLIN said...

Hey Andy,
your posting on 'trees' comes timely to help me keep my word to think about a Christmas write...

It is round the corner, 'Felix Navidad' (Boney M)

Here's to a blessed 2015 to you and your family. Keep the blog going.

JAMES KWOK said...

Here's three more for the memories

The Platters – 16 candles

The Platters - Sixteen Tons

The Platters Unchained Melody

tunesmith09 said...

Thank you for the post... just great... in 50 years we have gone from "singers and musicians" to "yellers and noisicians"...

God help us!

You tube comment

redforpresident said...

This is the one and only poem the nuns of St. Michael's Elementary School required us to memorize. And the word "bosom" is in this poem.

LARRY LAI said...

119. Trees. Joyce Kilmer. Modern American Poetry.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for the replies. Replies mean a lot to me.

Guilford Cigarman said...

I listen to this recording over and over again. The beauty is in the simplicity. And Tony Williams does an amazing rendition!

Michael Dearmey said...

Lead singer is NOT Tony WIlliams. Maybe Paul Robeson

Carl McKever said...

Never read such inspiring poetry about nature. I will never view the anatomy of a tree the same way! Awesome poems included in this book.


"Trees" (1913)a lyric poem by American poet Joyce Kilmer, was first published in Poetry: A Magazine of Verse that August and included in Kilmer's 1914 collection Trees and Other Poems. The poem, in twelve lines of rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter verse, depicts a feminine personification of a tree pressing its mouth to the Earth's breast, looking at God, and raising its arms to pray.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

This heritage lychee tree is in today's Straits Times (30 October, 2019). It is headline news and posted on the front page.

I posted its plight here many years ago and I am glad that it has been blessed with some steel structures so that it can stand proud in a very beautiful and wooded area in Singapore.

Cheers to readers who love the green of pastures and stature of trees.



Winston Koh
Andy Young Evergreen Trees, Lemon Trees, only 2 that I always remember 1)Evergreen Tree being singing this song for more than Fifty years 2) Lemon Tree sung duet with late Susan's Lim at a friend house birthday party. Lemon tree very pretty!

Andy Young
Hi Winston, you remember and with a fantastic memory too. You sang duet with Susan. Wow. Thanks for the makan meet with Laurence and Rickie.

Stephen Han
I Talk To The Tree by John Kerr in the movie South Pacific

Andy Young
Yes I remember the song. That's from Cathay Cinema... You frequent the place for movies. Unique building. Thanks for the song Stephen.

Stephen Han
Andy Young -I lived in Handy Road which is only a stone throw from Cathay Cinema.

Andy Young
Oh yes, now I remember. Also your Rita Moreno story n the blog. You have much in you with your generous personality too. Thanks Stephen.

Freda Hanum
Remarkable stories and songs of trees Andy

Andy Young
Hi Freda, thanks again for your blog support.

Andy Young
Freda Hanum
Hiroshi Deguchi
Ser Kiong Tan
Gracie Teo
Rose Khoo
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