About the Songs From Love Like An Ocean

I’ve had the good fortune of living most of my life in close proximity to the Pacific Ocean.  I’ve walked
and daydreamed my way along the rocks and shores of Southern and Northern California whenever
possible. There, beside the omnipresent sound of the many waters and the rising and falling of the
waves, I have fallen deep in love with the female essence of the ocean and the manifold contours of
her shoreline. Summercloud is the name that I have given to my personification of this aspect of the
great mother of creation. Transcendence is ever-present in the cool touch of sea spray and the taste
of the salty wind and in the moment when Summercloud lets fall her shroud and envelopes us in her
divine embrace.  It is a moment both spiritual and erotic and the act of love becomes the humble
offering of a song. Where did the name “Summercloud” come from? My longtime pal, Pat Espinoza,
saw the name on ride board back in the early 70s. She, Summercloud, was looking for a ride to
somewhere. When he mentioned the name to me I was instantly struck with its poetry and knew that
there would someday be a song called “Summercloud”. We never did meet the person, Summercloud.
We didn’t have a car and so we weren’t going to be giving any girls named Summercloud any rides

I heard the song “Good Ship Kangaroo” from the Irish group Planxty featuring the singing of the great
Christy Moore. I loved the sadder-but-wiser love story and the mention of all the exotic locales where
our steward and cook diligently shopped for his beloved. Absence did make her heart grow fonder; it
just turned out to be for some random truck driver. I wonder what he did with all those cool presents he
brought her.

I went to Hawaii, to the island of Maui, in the summer of 1968. There I worked in the pineapple fields
with some of my friends for Maui Pineapple Company.  On our day off we would hitch a ride into the old
whaling port of Lahaina and hang around soaking up the sun and the ambiance of this old Hawaiian
town. I wrote “All’s Well and Peaceful” when I was back home in California reflecting on those times.
Around this time I was busy listening to all manner of folk music. I was very drawn to the songs of
Scotland’s Incredible String Band whose tone helped me find the voice for many songs, “All’s Well and
Peaceful” included. By the way, I pilfered the title from a song my singing partner, Paul Espinoza (Pat’s
big brother) was working on at the time.

Anyway I also was listening to the kind of songs coming out of the great young folksingers and
songwriters who congregated in Greenwich Village, in New York City; people like Bob Dylan, Eric
Anderson, and Fred Neil. These guys had their own way of singing and writing the blues and I figured I
could do it too and I came up with the song that came to be known as “King Dogie’s Lament”.  It was
first called “There Really Ain't a Whole Lot That You Can Say” but that seemed a little long and
unwieldy. I took the song with me when I went away to college at The University of California at Santa
Cruz. There I wound up rooming with a guy named Jim Woods who was just about the best harmonica
player I ever heard. We would play this song together and he started calling it “The Truckin’ Song”
because it was a good one to truck to (in the R. Crumb sense). That stuck for a while until the Grateful
Dead scored a big hit with “Truckin’” and so I resumed my search for a title. Now some years previous it
so happened that for some darn reason I had figured it would be a good idea to give myself a cowboy-
style name and I decided on “King Dogie”. Well, everybody seemed to enjoy the name and it got a lot
of laughs and so it stuck. So one night the idea came to me that my song should be called “King Dogie’
s Lament”. At the time I was romantically involved with a pretty little slip of a blonde California beach girl
named Cheri and she was sure that there was another song with the same title. What?! I found that
impossible to believe and I asked her who it was that had sung such a song. She said she thought it
was Nat King Cole. Well, I just about died laughing but she said she could prove it. Well as it turned out
there was a song called “The Dogie’s Lament”. It went, “Yippee ti yi aye, get along little doggies” and it
turns out Nat King Cole had done a version. I thought to myself, “Well, if that don’t beat all.”  But
anyway it isn’t called “King Dogie’s Lament”. Some thirty years later I wound up getting married to that
little blonde by the name of Cheri.

I decided to write a mystery story when I was six years old. My dad had been reading “Treasure Island”
out loud to me. I can still remember hearing the words of Robert Louis Stevenson and the pictures that
they made in my imagination. My mom had showed me her collection of Judy Bolton (no relation to
John) mystery stories, by Margaret Sutton, that she had collected and read as a girl. I was fascinated
by the green covers and the cryptic logo of a gate, slightly ajar, that adorned each book. I tried to read
the books myself but they were a little advanced for me. So I wound up writing and illustrating my own
book called “The Big Mystery Book”. It was brief and owed much to “Treasure Island” with a nod to
Margaret Sutton. It was my six-year old attempt at homage. The story featured a squeaky gate, some
girls in a house, and a guy who looked shipwrecked and wanted rum. My mom and dad ran across my
original (and only) edition and recently returned it to me. I found that the theme still had resonance in
my imagination and so I decided to flesh out the story and make it into a song. While working on the
song I traveled up the coast to Santa Cruz with my son Jamie and we continued playing with the
shipwreck idea. We were driving our way down one of the town’s many crooked streets when we spied
some poor soul staggering and stumbling through the gutter. One of us remarked that the guy looked
really shipwrecked and Jamie suggested that Santa Cruz was in many ways a “shipwreck town”. That
was the catalyst that got the song going. After many revisions and adjustments to the story I wound up
with the song “Shipwrecked”.
A few years ago I bought a little portable cassette deck to keep handy for when a song idea might
come to mind. It came in handy one beautiful desert night in Tucson Arizona while at a conference with
my wife Cheri. I was just letting my fingers play across the strings of my guitar when a little melody
emerged. I happened to have my tape deck handy and so I taped myself playing the tune over and
over. A few weeks later, back home in San Diego, I was driving in the car and I played the tape. I began
singing in counterpoint to the guitar melody and it became the song “Ride the Waves”.
I was the director of the folk choir at Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church, El Cajon, California, from 1987
to 1995. It was a great opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful people including several members of
the clergy. I remember the two ministers who were married to each other, Steve and Cinda Gorman.
They both left an imprint upon my music. At the time just prior to the out break of the Persian Gulf War,
Cinda asked me to try and write a song about war and the teachings of Christ with the result being
“The Prophet of Peace” recorded by The Strange Woods on our album “Transparency”. On another
occasion Steve requested that the choir do a version of an old gospel song, “Peace Like a River”.
From that time on I have found it to be a thoroughly cosmic song. I now teach it to the kids in my
Sunday school classes at the Self-Realization Temple in San Diego.
I was part of a little folk group back in the late 60s and early 70s that we called “Everyman”. The group
was me along with friends Jim Petty and Paul Espinoza (who would go on to found the Celtic group
“Golden Bough” with his wife Margie). We liked to play our songs at gatherings of friends and along the
way we developed this little jam in the key of A minor that had a jazzy feel. I later developed and
expanded my contribution to the piece and the result is “Beautiful Eyes”.
I was earlier telling about my trip to Maui in the summer of 1968. Along with the Incredible String Band
another big influence on my music was Donovan in that his singing and songwriting suggested an
approach that fit with what I found myself trying to express. “The Ferris Wheel” is one of those songs. It
was a reflection of another enchanted day in the town of Lahaina when a carnival did come to town.

I have been blessed with three children, each one as precious to me as can be. The youngest, Angela,
was nicknamed “Bluey” or “Tiny Blue” and as a toddler she manifested the most joyous exuberance
with the world as she found it. I attempted to translate this exuberance into a song and a ragtimey sort
of song resulted; “Sweet Baby Blue”. The song also was an extension of the old 1930s Betty Boop and
Popeye cartoons that we liked to watch, the ones where the streets and buildings seemed to vibrate
with the crazy, jazzy music that played in the background.
For many years I made the bulk of my living playing Irish music in Irish pubs oftentimes with my partner
Theresa Rochelle (cofounder of The Strange Woods). On certain occasions at the old Blarney Stone
Pub in San Diego we would stick around after closing and trade songs and stories with a fine Irish
singer from Dublin named Brian Connelly. He was a great entertainer and a raconteur of the first
degree. I remember hearing this great old song “Fiddler’s Green” from him. A few years back, Brian left
us for Fiddler’s Green and a lot of us miss him and all the fun he brought to the pub. We know that he’s
enjoying himself “where the girls are all pretty and the beer is all free and there’s bottles of rum (Irish
Mist for Brian) growing on every tree”.
I first remember falling in love with Big Sur; along the central California coast on a family vacation in the
summer of 1959 (I remember the year because it was the rookie season for a young slugger for the
San Francisco Giants named Willie McCovey). My family stopped and had breakfast at the lodge there
in Big Sur and then made our way along the narrow winding road that clings to the cliffs above the
rocky and wild shoreline along Highway One. In the years since the road and the region has thankfully
changed little. In my early years I frequently hitchhiked my way from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo by
way of Big Sur. During those times I was drenched by rains, enveloped in fog, nearly froze to death,
and was given rides in all manner of hippy-style vehicles but that’s another story. In recent years I have
been able to share this special place with my wife Cheri and it has come to be special for her too. We
particularly love the campground at Kirk Creek which is the setting for my song of camping romance,
“Summer’s Journey”.
For those of us living along the west coast the sunset takes place over and into the ocean. “Chinese
Lantern” is a little tone poem that offers a description of a west coast sunset and it leads into another
sunset song, “Feeling Very Sad and Happy”.
“Ocean of Divine Love” is a song I wrote as I was coming out of a sweet meditation. The vocal tag at
the end is homage to The Beach Boys but instead of “Ah oom dop diddy” it’s “Aum ananda (Sanskrit
for bliss).
TM Jim Hinton 2006
Big Sur in California is a
boundless source of
at beautiful Kirk Creek
All songs, text, images, and photos are copyrighted by Jim
Hinton 2006. Please do not reproduce without permission.  All
photos by Cher Hinton unless otherwise indicated.
Hawaiian rain
---Munching on
manapua from the
local 7-11 store while
driving alongside
pineapple fields, red
volcanic earth, and
rainbows everywhere
Wandering through
the red ginger at the
Byodo-in Temple in
the Valley of the
Temples, nestled
against the Ko'olau
Mountains on Oahu.

The lush tropical
hillsides, gentle
rains, and mystic
peace of Hawaii drift
through songs, such
All's Well and
Tibetian River.

Photo by Jim Hinton