Colors of the Wind

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"Colors of the Wind"
Song by Judy Kuhn from the album Pocahontas
Genre Film music
Length 3:34
Label Walt Disney
Composer Alan Menken

"Colors of the Wind" is a song written by lyricist Stephen Schwartz and composer Alan Menken for Walt Disney Pictures' 33rd animated feature film Pocahontas (1995). The film's theme song, "Colors of the Wind" was originally recorded by American singer and actress Judy Kuhn in her role as the singing voice of Pocahontas. American recording artist Vanessa Williams' cover of the song was released as the lead single from the film's soundtrack on March 23, 1995. A pop ballad, the song's lyrics speak of respecting nature and living in harmony with the Earth's creatures.

"Colors of the Wind" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 68th Academy Awards in 1995, becoming composer Alan Menken's fourth win in the category. It also won the Golden Globe in the same category as well as the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Movie. The song poetically presents the Native American viewpoint that the earth is a living entity where humankind is connected to everything in nature.

Composition[edit]

The first two notes of Alan Menken's melody span a musical interval of a major sixth. Overall, the span of the melody reaches an eleventh. Because the melody spans a slightly larger range than some instruments, such as the Native American Flute, can reach, alternative versions of the melody have been arranged that span a more modest interval.[1]

Described as a "stirring anthem to animism",[2] this song is Pocahontas' exhortation to Captain John Smith about the wonders of the earth and nature, including the spirit within all living things, encouraging him not to think of them as things he can conquer or own, but rather as beings to respect and live with in harmony. She also urges him to accept humans who are different in appearance and culture and to learn from them.

There is some debate over where the song begins within the narrative of the movie. The first part sung, when the music technically begins, has Pocahontas talking about how having experience with other races does not necessarily mean understanding them, and has her asking John Smith whether she is the savage between the two of them. As she sings this, she angrily shoves his gun into his hands, implying that that European attitude towards guns, violence, and racism is far more savage than the views that the Native Americans have. Pocahontas then tells John Smith that there is a lot about the Earth he doesn't know. At this point, it is considered that the song actually begins. The first line of the chorus tells of the wolf crying to the "blue corn moon", with the second line varying with the verse context. The phrase "blue corn moon" has no actual meaning in Native American folklore. It was made up by lyricist Stephen Schwartz because he liked the sound of it, being inspired by a Native American love poem that read "I will come to you in the moon of green corn".[3] The second time the chorus is sung in the single version, the second line becomes "Or let the eagle tell you where he's been" since the film version only has the one chorus already mentioned. The third line tells of singing with the voices of the mountains, as the fourth line concludes with the title imagery of painting with the colors of the wind.

Cover versions[edit]

"Colors of the Wind"
Single by Vanessa Williams
from the album Pocahontas
Released May 23, 1995
Format CD single
Recorded 1995
Genre Pop, R&B
Length 4:17
Label Hollywood
Writer(s) Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz
Producer(s) Keith Thomas
Certification Gold
Vanessa Williams singles chronology
"The Way That You Love"
(1995)
"Colors of the Wind"
(1995)
"You Can't Run"
(1995)

Due to the popularity of the song, many versions of it exist by different artists and in several languages. Cover artists include:

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clint Goss (2011). "Colors of the Wind for the Native American Flute". Flutopedia. Retrieved 2011-11-23. 
  2. ^ Kempley, Rita. "‘Pocahontas’: A Hit or Myth Proposition" Washington Post. June 23, 1995
  3. ^ What is a blue corn moon? Yahoo Answers. Retrieved 2009-08-24
  4. ^ "australian-charts.com". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  5. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results for Vanessa Williams". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ "charts.org.nz - Vanessa Williams - Colors Of The Wind". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  7. ^ "everyhit.com search results for Vanessa Williams". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Allmusic - Vanessa Williams - Billboard Singles". Retrieved December 6, 2008 (2008-12-06).  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  9. ^ "Zoeken naar: Artiest: Vanessa Williams (in Dutch)". DutchCharts.nl. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  10. ^ "dutchcharts.nl - Vanessa Williams - Colors Of The Wind". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ "ultratop.be - Vanessa Williams - Colors Of The Wind". Retrieved December 6, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1995". Retrieved 2010-08-27.