Hot Summer Breeze

After many years of working as the guitar player and the main songwriter for The Band, Robbie Robertson took a break from music when they disbanded in 1976 and he spent a few years doing film scores for his pal Martin Scorsese who directed The Last Waltz and he acted with Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner’s Daughter.  In 1987, he returned to pop music for his self-titled solo debut album on Geffen Records.  The album won the Juno Award for “Album of the Year”, and producers Lanois and Robertson won the “Producer of the Year” Juno award, both in 1989 as there were no Juno Awards held in 1988.  The songwriting was top notch, but his singing was a true surprise, as previously his only lead singing credit came on the Band’s Last Waltz album on the song ‘Out of the Blue’.

Robertson recruited fellow Canadian Daniel Lanois (of U2 and Peter Gabriel production fame) to create a new sonic landscape.  While Lanois was working with U2, he invited Robertson to come out to Ireland to work in the home studio where U2 were recording, and Robertson got a chance to work with Peter Gabriel in his home studio.  The album also featured many other top-notch guest stars, like the Neville Brothers, The Band’s Rick Danko and Garth Hudson, as well as studio veterans Tony Levin, Terry Bozzio and Larry Klein.  Tony Levin was in King Crimson, Terry Bozzio made his name working with Frank Zappa and Larry Klein is an award-winning producer and collaborator, who has worked on numerous albums with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Warren Zevon, and Celine Dion.  ‘Broken Arrow’ reverberates with Gabriel’s signature Yamaha CP-80 electric piano.

Songwriters are faced with many possibilities when they compose music, and in this song ‘Broken Arrow’, Robbie Robertson decided to use the exact same note, the fifth note of sol or G for the first seven notes of the chorus to create a beautiful and haunting melody in part just by varying the rhythm of the notes.  In 1991, this became a top twenty hit for Rod Stewart, peaking at #20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart and it went to #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and the video features Rachel Hunter, Rod’s wife at the time.  It was a staple for months on both MTV and VH1.

This album took Robbie Robertson back to his native American roots, as he was born in Toronto on July 5, 1943, to a Jewish gambler and a Mohican woman.  After his father died, Robbie began spending his summers with relatives on the Six Nations reserve near Brantford, Ont., and this was his first contact with spiritual people who had this connection with Mother Earth.  This song looks at issues from an Indian point of view, a perspective that opened the door for Robbie so he could go deeper into exploring his feelings of being a Native American.  The Native American imagery in this song abounds, in a much more personal way than it did on the songs that he did with the Band.  To native Americans, an arrow represents protection and defense and a broken arrow represents peace, reconciliation, the start of a new chapter, a time when conflict ends.  The image of rain, rain clouds, or a raindrop is considered to be a positive symbol, because water is a substance of life and a bottle of rain represents prosperity.

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around

Do you feel what I feel
Can we make that so it’s part of the deal
I gotta hold you in these arms of steel
Lay your heart on the line this time

I want to breathe when you breathe
When you whisper like that hot summer breeze
Count the beads of sweat that cover me
Didn’t you show me a sign this time

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around

Can you see what I see
Can you cut behind the mystery
I will meet you by the witness tree
Leave the whole world behind

I want to come when you call
I’ll get to you if I have to crawl
They can’t hold me with these iron walls
We’ve got mountains to climb

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain
There he goes moving across the water
There he goes turning my whole world around

Turning my whole world around
Turning my whole world around
Turning my whole world around
Turning my whole world around

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Breeze/Cloud/Sky/Wind.

26 thoughts on “Hot Summer Breeze

  1. That’s a lovely song!

    When I read “Broken Arrow,” I immediately thought of the 1950 Jimmy Stewart movie. I think it is a classic of the Old West genre.

    It can also mean a lost nuclear weapon. There’s a 1966 John Travolta movie with that title and plot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great write up on this amazing song! I also thought of the movie “Broken Arrow” with Travolta and Slater. I watched hat movie several times over. Then I was reminded of another song called “Broken Arrow” written by Neil Young. Totally different lyrics and meaning. So fun how music incites so many other rabbit holes. LOL! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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