The Shifting, Whispering Sands, Recitation & Flute Accompaniment by Howard Ball

Listen as I recite this Western song and poem, Shifting Whispering Sands, written by Vivian Clark Gilbert and his wife, Mary Margaret Hadler. It was first recorded in 1955 by Rusty Draper. My favorite recording was by Johnny Cash

      Shifting Whispering Sands

Yes it always whispers to me
of the days of long ago,
when the settlers and the miners
fought the crafty Navajo.

How the cattle roamed the valley,
happy people worked the land,
and now everything is covered
by the shifting, whispering sands.

I discovered the valley of the shifting, whispering sands
while prospecting for gold in one of our western States.

I saw the silent windmills, the crumbling water tanks,
the bones of cattle and burros picked clean by buzzards,
and bleached by the desert sun.

I stumbled over a crumbling buckboard, nearly covered by the sands.
And stopping to rest,
I heard a tinkling, whispering sound.
Then suddenly realized
that even though the wind was quiet
the sand did not lie still.

I seemed to be surrounded by a mystery,
so heavy and oppressive, I could scarcely breathe.

For days and weeks I wandered aimlessly in this valley,
seeking answers to the many questions
that raced through my fevered mind.
“Where was everyone? Why the white bones? The dry wells?
The barren valley where people must have lived and died?”

Finally, I could go no further.
My food and water gone.
I sat down and buried my face in my hands.
And resting thus, I learned the secret
of the shifting, whispering sands.

How I managed to escape from the valley, I do not know.
But now to pay my final debt for being spared,
I must tell you what I learned out on the desert
so many years ago.

When the day is awfully quiet,
and the breeze seems not to blow,
One would think the sand was resting,
but you’ll find, this is not so.

It is whispering, softly whispering,
as it slowly moves along,
and for those who stop and listen,
it will sing this mournful song.

Of sidewinders, and the horn toads,
of the thorny chaparral.
Of sunny days and moonlit nights,
the coyotes lonely yell.

How the stars seemed, you could touch them,
as you lay and gaze on high
at the heavens where we’re hoping
we’ll be going when we die.

Yes, it always whispers to me
of the days of long ago,
when the settlers and the miners
fought the crafty Navajo.

How the cattle roamed the valley,
happy people worked the land.
Now everything is covered
by the shifting, whispering sands.

How the miner left his buckboards,
went to work his claims that day.

And the burros broke their halters
when they thought he’d gone to stay.
Wandering far in search of water
on to old sidewinder’s well.
And their bones picked clean by buzzards
that were circling when they fell.

How they found the ancient miner
lying dead upon the sand.
After months they could but wonder,
if he died by human hand?

So they dug his grave and laid him
on his back, and crossed his hands.
And his secret still is hidden
by the shifting, whispering sands.

This is what they whispered to me
on the quiet desert air,
of the people and the cattle,
and the miner lying there.

“If you want to learn their secret,
wander through this quiet land.
And I’m sure you’ll hear the story
of the shifting, whispering sands.”

Yes, it always whispers to me
of the days of long ago,
when the settlers and the miners
fought the crafty Navajo.

How the cattle roamed the valley,
happy people worked the land.
Now everything is covered 
by the shifting, whispering sands.

To listen to more of my flute music, songs, poems, and recitations, please visit My Music page.

As Long as the Grass Shall Grow: Recitation and Flute Accompaniment by Howard Ball

 Listen as I recite (and accompany with the Native American flute)
this song released by Johnny Cash in 1964.

      As Long As the Grass Shall Grow
As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow,
As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow.
The Senecas are an Indian tribe of the Iroquios nation,
Down on the New York Pennsylvania Line you’ll find their reservation.
After the US revolution, Cornplanter was a chief.
He told the tribe these men they could trust – that was his true belief.
He went down to Independence Hall and there was a treaty signed,
That promised peace with the USA and Indian rights combined.
George Washington gave his signature. The Government gave its hand.
They said that now and forever more that this was Indian land.
As long as the moon shall rise…
On the Seneca reservation there is much sadness now.
Washington’s treaty has been broken and there is no hope, no how.
Across the Allegheny River they’re throwing up a dam.
It will flood the Indian country, a proud day for Uncle Sam.
It has broke the ancient treaty with a politician’s grin.
It will drown the Indian’s graveyards. Cornplanter, can you swim?
The earth is mother to the the Senecas. They’re trampling sacred ground,
Changing the mint green earth to black mud flats, as honor hobbles down.
As long as the moon shall rise…
The Iroquios Indians used to rule from Canada way south.
But no one fears the Indians now and smiles the liar’s mouth.
The Senecas hired an expert to figure another site,
But the great, good army engineers said that he had no right.
Although he showed them another plan and showed them another way,
They laughed in his face and said no deal – Kinuza dam is here to stay.
Congress turned the Indians down, brushed off the Indians plea,
So the Senecas have renamed the dam – they call it Lake Perfidy.
As long as the moon shall rise…
Washington, Adams, and Kennedy – now hear their pledges ring.
The treaties are safe. We’ll keep our word, but what is that gurgling?
It’s the back water from Perfidy Lake, it’s rising all the time –
Over the homes, and over the fields, and over the promises fine.
No boats will sail on Lake Perfidy – in winter it will fill.
In summer it will be a swamp, and all the fish will kill.
But the Government of the USA has corrected George’s vow.
The father of our country must be wrong – what’s an Indian anyhow?
As long as the moon shall rise, (look up) as long as the rivers flow, (are you thirsty)
As long as the sun will shine, (my brother are you warm) as long as the grass shall grow
For more recitations of Poems, Songs, and Prayers, as well as flute music, please see my Flute Sounds page.

Men with Broken Hearts: Recitation by Howard Ball, Accompanied by the Native American Flute

Listen as I recite Men with Broken Hearts, written and recorded by Hank Williams in 1950. I love this song, which has been recorded by some of my favorite artists of all time, Jim Reeves, Buddy Ebson, Porter Wagner, and my very favorite, Johnny Cash. It is a sad, yet beautiful song, perfect to be accompanied by the Native American Flute, which you will also hear me playing in the background.

      Men With Broken Hearts

Men with Broken Hearts
A recitation by Howard Ball
Accompanied by the Native American Flute, also by Howard Ball

For more recitations and flute music, please visit my Flute Sounds page.

The Spell of the Yukon

As I’ve written recently in a blog post, (Native American Version of the Twenty Third Psalm) I have been enjoying combining my passion for music with my love of recitation. I am truly loving exploring this new form of creative expression and I’m already working on and planning new recordings.

Please listen as I recite this classic poem, The Spell of the Yukon, by Robert Service. (1953) I am also playing the flute in the background.

The Spell of the Yukon
A recitation by Howard Ball
Accompanied by the Native American Flute, also by Howard Ball

      The Spell of the Yukon ---Suncrow flutes-High Flute

See also below: Native American Version of the Twenty Third Psalm with Amazing Grace on the flute in the background.

The Native American Version
of the Twenty Third Psalm
A recitation by Howard Ball
Accompanied by the Native American Flute, also by Howard Ball

      Native American Version of Psalm 23