Interview with Dave Richardson (Skylark’s “Wildflower”)

Skylark Wildflower David Foster

What is the story of Wildflower song by Skylark band?

Skylark was David Foster’s first band, based in Canada. They had in 1972 a huge success with the single “Wildflower”, which has been in the Top 40 BillBoard chart. DavidFoster.info is glad to present you an exclusive interview with lyricist Dave Richardson who tell us the story of the song and some interesting episodes related to David and the band.

How did you and David Foster became friends?

David Foster and I became close friends in 1967 when he was 17 and I was 25. He was playing piano in a night club (“The Old Forge”) here in Victoria. I was a cop with the Saanich Police Department (Saanich is a municipality in Greater Victoria) and I used to go to the “Forge” quite often. I had been writing songs and poems since I was a child, so we had music in common in our friendship.

Who recorded the song Wildflower ?

“Wildflower” was a Top 40 hit on BillBoard chart with the group Skylark. You wrote the lyrics, how did you got the inspiration ?

In 1970 I was dating a nurse, whom I would eventually marry in 1971 (it only lasted four years, though – we were both not ready for such a commitment). One night I went to pick her up at her apartment, as we had planned on going out. When she opened the door I saw that she was upset to the point of tears. She still had a housecoat on and had her hair wrapped in a towel after a shower. She told me that two elderly ladies she had been caring for in the hospital had died that day at work, and she felt terribly sad about it, as she had come to know them fairly well over a period of time. Anyway, she more or less vented her feelings and I just listened. After she was finished, she thanked me for listening, and said she would get ready for our date. She went into the bedroom and closed the door, and I sat and watched TV waiting for her to come out. When she didn’t return, I knocked on the door but she didn’t answer, so I went in to find her fast asleep on the bed, still in her housecoat and with the towel still wrapped around her head. I guess she was just exhausted after her emotional day. So, I put a blanket over her, being careful not to wake her, and went home and wrote the song in about fifteen minutes or so. It was absolutely inspired. I have always felt that all I did was hold the pen in my hand, and that God did the writing. The “Be careful how you touch her, for she’ll awaken” part, refers to when I put the blanket over her. “The way she’s always paying, for a debt she never owes…” – It wasn’t her fault that the two ladies had died, and yet she felt so badly for them that she was crying.

The song is an evergreen and has been covered by several artists during last years. Do you have still get any feedback from people?

Yes. In the years that followed, I have received many, many letters from around the world, saying how the song had changed the lives of so many people. Perhaps the most momentous of these letters was one from here in Victoria, years after the song was a hit. A local woman sent me a letter (addressed to me at the police station), saying that when she was a girl of about 17-18, her life had become more than she could bear and she decided to end it all. She was at a local beach and was waiting for sun to do down and for the people to leave the beach so she could commit suicide by drowning herself. When it got dark, she started walking into the water. She had left her purse and belongings on a blanket in the sand, along with her transistor radio. When she got up to her shoulders in the ocean, she heard from her radio behind her, for the first time in her life, “She’s faced the hardest times you could imagine…” She stopped in the water and listened to the entire song, and when it was over she turned around and walked out of the water. At the time that she wrote me the letter to thank me for the song which saved her life, she had grown and was happily married, a mother of either 2 or 3 small children (I forget the number). When I consider the money the song has made, I would have gladly traded every cent of my share for that one letter. Nothing has mattered to me as much as that letter and others like it, where the song has changed so many lives for the better. This is why I really do believe that God, in Whom I truly believe and for Whom I now live every day of my life, inspired me to write that song.

Can you describe us the mood of the recording session? What was David’s impact on the arranging of the song?

Selflessly, in “Wildflower”, although David was the leader of “Skylark” and its keyboard player, “Wildflower” was the one song on the album “Skylark” on which he DIDN’T play at all. David told me that he felt it was better without keyboards; thus, you will hear the haunting guitar of Doug Edwards (with whom I wrote the song – Doug wrote the music). His guitar is intertwined with a harp, which David arranged to get from the L.A. Symphony – the same as the strings, from the same orchestra. Also, all the background vocals you hear are all the same voice, that of lead singer Donny Gerrard, whose wonderful voice has been so identifiable with the song over the years. By the way, the lead guitar throughout the song? Doug had NEVER rehearsed it! The first time ever that he had played it is what you hear on the record. They were in the studio trying to figure out how to start the song, and Doug said, “Let me try something on the guitar…” He more or less started picking away, and, having written the music, went all the way throught the song by himself playing the lead… After over four minutes of doing that, including not playing at times when he could imagine in his mind Donny singing the words, he said to the others, “I like that. Let’s record it before I forget what I just played.” The engineer said, “It’s already recorded.” Wisely, he had taped Doug’s “practice” instrumental without anyone knowing it. So, the lead guitar you hear in that recording had never been written, never rehearsed whatsover! What you hear in that guitar solo, all the way through the song, was the absolute original. Doug played each note as the idea came to him, AS he was playing it. Again, I believe the entire song was divinely inspired.

Are you still in contact with David?

He and I remain close friends to this day. When I go to California, I stay at his place in Malibu, and I see him quite often up here when he visits his family here in Victoria. My younger brother Doug, also a retired Victoria policeman, is currently president of the David Foster Foundation which, as you know, raises money for the families of children who have to have surgery out of the province of British Columbia, here in Canada. That is what David is all about – a completely wonderful, selfless person who does so many things for so many people. I have really cherished his friendship all these years, as I will for the rest of my life.

WILDFLOWER

(D.Edwards-D.Richardson)

She’s faced the hardest times
you could imagine
and many times her eyes
fought back the tears
and when her youthful world
was about to fall in
each time her slender shoulders
bore the weight of all her fears
and a sorrow no one hears
still rings in midnight silence
in her ears

Chorus:
Let her cry
for she’s a lady
let her dream
for she’s a child
let the rain fall down upon her
she’s a free and gentle flower
growing wild

And if by chance that I
should hold her
let me hold her
for a time
that if allowed but one possession
I would pick her from the garden
to be mine

Be careful how you touch her
for she’ll awaken
and sleep’s the only freedom
that she knows
and when you walk into her eyes
you won’t believe
the way she’s always paying
for a debt she never owes
and a silent wind still blows
that only she can hear
and so she goes

Chorus (repeat)

©1972 EDSEL Music SOCAN/BMI
All rights reserved

 

40 Replies to “Interview with Dave Richardson (Skylark’s “Wildflower”)”

  1. Hey David,
    that song wildflower is one of the best songs i have ever heard. After all these years it’s still great. I heard it when it came out…. I was about 11 years old. It continued to be a great song throughout my school years. thanx for the song
    Glenn

  2. Hi,
    This might be a different kind of comment for you.
    As you can see my name is Robert Duris Sakell.MY father had named me after his drummer and keyboard player at the time.(Robbie King,Duris Maxwell)
    My dad was known through the vancouver area as Boston bob and played there for a few years.
    I am now 24 years old and music is my biggest passion.My dad has told me of the good times that he had out in vancouver but unfairly I lost my chance to meet Robbie myself as he past away.
    I would love the opportunity to chat or even talk with you as I am trying to fill a void that I have too little information on.
    I am also a keyboard player both piano and hammond organ player. love to sing your older skylark songs as much as possible and enjoy playing live in front of people.
    Who knows, Maybe a young fellow from new brunswick could find his way out there to pursue my music

  3. In the late 70’s I was a singing drummer in a Calgary club band. Some years earlier (on a pilgrimage to the annual Vancouver be-in),I was fortunate enough to see Skylark perform at a downtown nightclub. Wildflower was the most beautiful and powerful song I had ever heard. I learned it, sang it for years. Still love it. The song has stood the test of time.( Why dosn’t some disney boy band record it and make a million dollars).

  4. Hi David,

    I notice that the name of the label you were on was called Stardom Records and was wondering if that was the same label as the new Stardom Records now based out of N.Y.C. that is headed by Tim Allen who now has distribution through Sony/Jive Records (so they claim).

    I myself was classically trained at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and was a percussion major at the School of Music & the Performing Arts.

    I’ve been the keyboardist for H2E/Warner Brothers and for Universal Records artist Roy Rivers and am currently a member of rock band “Strangleweed” which is currently working with Wayne Cohen in N.Y. and is sponsored by Budweiser, Jagermeister, and Monster Energy Drink.

    We also appear on the nationally syndicated tv show “Eye For An Eye” on the WB which is now in rotation worldwide.

    Please let me know if Stardom Records you were signed to is the same Stardom Records which is now claiming to be a new label with Major Distribution.

    You can contact me at impini@hotmail.com at your earliest convenience.

    Thank you.

    Jerry Impini

  5. Wildflower
    is the my flavorite song of all time it touches my soul.I have had a hard life
    raising my autistic son on my own and boy have I had tears and dreams.
    Anyways thanks for writing it.
    I plan on having played at my funeral,which I hope will not be anytime soon.lol

    1. wow. I can relate to you totally. I also have a child who is autistic, another one off to college and gets a little inpatient with me and another one who hardly calls. Never knew it would be so heartbreaking to be a mother, because I am very very close to mine. I don’t know you but appreciate your share. You are loved.

  6. david ,,you’ll get no credit from me for wildfire. you got to do something to earn it , and you didn’t on that song

  7. I remember even as a very young child this song absolutely “struck me” so much passion and heart felt meaning in the voice and that wonderful guitar…wow! I loved it back then! Years later as I drove to work one morning this song started, I almost had to pull my car over just because of the emotions this song awoke within my heart…my soul. It is by far one of the most beautiful songs ever. Skylark’s Wildflower is simply untouchable. Tonight, I was able to read the story (about the nurse) that prompted Dave’s writing of this song’s lyrics. I got chills, because I have been a nurse for almost 23 years and have sadly felt similar pain after losing a patient, crying myself to sleep and then going on with life…what a story and what a song…simply beautiful in every way.

  8. I knew from the moment I heard this song and now reading the interview that God sends words with music to heal, touch and give hope to the hopeless. I too am a song writer and pray that my songs would be used in the same way Wildflower has blessed so many.

    Thanks for the interview.

    Albert C Solorio
    Rancho Cucamonga,CA

  9. I’m touched by the story of Widflower! (and I’m a old Texas guy!)

    35 years after the song — and aided by another miracle called the internet — I whimfully queried “be careful how you touch her” — as the mystery of the words finally hit me.

    ‘Glad I found it. ‘Glad David wrote it. ‘Glad we all got to share it. Thanks David. Thank God.

  10. Thanks for making the past 35 years a listening pleasure! Your work over the years strikes me as being firmly rooted in a remakable era where our ballads really meant something greather than ourselves. Your work exemplifies that kind of integrity and grace. It would be such a wonderful add if you posted links to your audio/video works.

  11. Hi David,

    The song is really still great, reminded me when I am still in hish school – those were the days with a friend of mine that he had poliomyelitis. It was very memorable.
    How could I get the CD of it? please advise.

  12. Incredible, hauntingly beautiful music that I’ve remembered since I was 14. So I truly believe this is an inspired song from God as it has touched so many people. It reached into the depths of my soul. I’ve been that anguished and can relate entirely to the young nurse whom it was written about.

  13. Hi Dave,

    I remember speaking on the phone with you about 10 years ago. I was introduced to you by a mutual friend, Kurt. At the time I asked you what inspired you to write the song Wildflower. I’ve now been a nurse for the last 5 years. Tonight a resident of mine passed away….he was only a year younger than myself. We had become friends and I know all the staff on our floor tomorrow are going to be devestated. I’m going to bring in the song for them to hear….such a truly inspirational song. I know it will help ease some of the pain and remind us why we choose to care for people. I know this is God’s work.

    Ally

  14. I am so glad to have found this web page. I have been wondering about the meaning of this song for many years. “Wildflower” and “Night’s In White Satin” are the two songs that will always remind me of the first girl I was in love with when I was in the 6th grade in 72/73. Back then I guess I didn’t think too much about the meaning of songs but years later I thought it was very ironic because, to be honest, I thought this song was about suicide. You see, this girl that I knew liked me too and had a mutual friend tell me, but I was very shy and I turned her down. After that I just fell more in love with her but still could never tell her. In the summer of ’73 we moved away. I thought I would forget about her but I couldn’t. When I was 16 I finally had a steady girlfriend for a while. When we broke up it seems I thought to myself that I would never love anyone like I did that girl when I was 11/12 years old. Everything in my heart wanted to write a letter and tell her how I felt….I know now that was God talking to me, but at the time I didn’t have a clue. I never did. She died in 1979 at 18 years old and although I can’t say this with 100% certainty, I think she may have taken her own life because she didn’t think anyone cared about her. Recently I have had dreams about her and I believe that it is God telling me that she knows how I felt and still do and that I will see her again……all my hope is in him.

  15. Hello,
    I guess I’ll just jump right in with this one. I grew up in the south were we never got the whole story right. I never knew the song wild flower was about the story of your friend that had so much on her. After the elderly ladies died on her job.
    How you took care of her. I was always told you were dating this black girl. Which back in those days you never saw interacial dating. I always look at that song as meaning it was a song written for a black lady who had gone through so much and you took care of her to write and sing this song. It has given me strength and kept me strong. I still play that song.
    I love you for writing it. That was a long time ago.

    Vickie

  16. Hi Dave,
    Thank you again for writing this song – I appreciate that you acknowledge the source of your inspiration. You typed out the song lyrics for me (and another song that Chicago recorded, if my memory is accurate) almost 3 decades ago. At the time, we didn’t talk about ‘divine inspiration’, but it seems that God was so very present in the writing and creation of the music.
    It’s no coincidence that I was meant to read through the lyrics from time to time.
    Hope your journey continues to bring many blessings…
    J

  17. “Wildflower” stirs my heart every time I hear it. I feel the words and
    understand every emotion that this beautiful heartfelt song holds! I am
    a caregiver to seniors and have felt the loss of my dear patients. It’s hard
    to lose them, along with the challenges of life, family, & relationships.
    On the day I leave this earth, “Wildflower” will be sung! It’s my wish. My sons
    know how much I love this song. It means that much to me!
    I sing, and I truly believe that a song is not worth
    singing, unless it touches your soul !!!!
    Thank you, David for being compasionate enough to pass these heartfelt lyrics
    on to a hurting world, & Doug for the intense and haunting melody!

  18. I can not find this song sung by yall anywhere on Itunes
    My wife is a crime victim and like others this song its very touching to her.
    Im not sure you intended to use christian content in rain fall down up on you.
    but to use that is a statement we have used out of the word for peace.
    Love to see a name it would be listed under on Itunes.

  19. Hi dave every time i hear wildflower i think of u the time me and jackie went to bc and stayed at ur place jackie sure enjoyed her visit there that time after reading so many of these replies can see ur song touched so many hearts congratulation on ur up coming marriage god bless

  20. i know this may not be a popular thing to say..i had always loved this song thru the 1970’s and beyond..then i had not heard it for a long time..then in the 1990’s after nicole brown simpson was killed,and we had to live thru that nightmare of a “trial”,and we had to endure 24 hour coverage of OJ every day, one of the radio stations had a request from a listener to play the song “wildflower”,and when the song was over, the dj simply said that it was a listener’s request in memory of nicole brown simpson..i will tell you,that song always gives me that tingling at the nape of my neck,because of the heartfelt lyrics sung by the vocalist and the haunting guitar and harp..but when the dj said that,i just started to cry,for nicole and all of the other nicoles that obviously do not get that kind of publicity when they come to harm..since then, obviously, i still enjoy the song for its beauty and that singer’s voice..for me, it went full circle:from a love song, to a victim’s tribute,and back to its origin,a one-of -a -kind,hauntingly beautiful song.

  21. I don’t remember when I first heard this song. I didn’t know its title or who performed it until a few years ago. But it is a tribute to its beauty that it has stayed with me through the years. It has a subtle understated quality that reminds me of a romantic evening in a dimly lit room. After reading this interview I can fully appreciate the meaning of the lyrics and the caring which is obvious. I think the bridge of the song (that if allowed but one possession I would pick her from the garden to be mine) is breathtakenly beautifle. I can understand why it was a one hit wonder; what do you do for an encore? I really hate some of the remakes of the song which emphasise the “bong bongs” that are only heard in the last verse of the song. It’s sad that many people who have heard these remakes propably never heard the original.

  22. Dave,

    It’s been a long time. Let’s get in touch again. I live in Ocean Park (adjacent to White Rock).

  23. Now that I found this website and explanation of the lyrics I fully understand my emotional attachment to this song. It is my favorite song of all time and I’m a 50 year old male from Trinidad, West Indies. This song was simply inspired and exhibits a certain elegant perfection that cannot be contrived. Many artistes go through their careers applying all their skills and would produce great results. Wildflower however bloomed on its own using the talents of the individual players as a medium to produce itself. Divine inspiration indeed.

  24. Many years ago when I was in college, in Boston, I used to volunteer in a nearby hospital, in pediatriacs. There was an eleven year old girl there named Andrea. She had cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a terminal disease with a life expectancy of 20 years. To me, the song, Wildflower, was about her. Her slender shoulders did bear the weight of all her fears, and a sorrow no one heard did ring in midnight silence in her ears. With CF, even breathing can be a chore. So, sometimes sleep was the only freedom that she knew. In the end (at age 21), she did pay that debt that she never owed. That silent wind still blows through my mind even 30 years later. I miss you, Andrea and I will never forget you.

  25. New Birth remade this song and their version of it is excellent. At first i thought New Birth were the original but i later found out it was Skylark who originally song/wrote this song.

  26. It might sound repetitive but it is worth mentioning. This song is a divine intervention in the making when it was created. Thank you for hearing the call when it was presented to you,because of it this beautiful song called Wildflower will forever be a saving grace for a lot of people in all generations..thank you

  27. This is my favorite song of all time and I feel privileged to even be writing this comment on this website. I had a childhood of being horribly emotionally abused by my narcissistic mother who seemed to fool my whole family into believing she was a great mother and I was a terrible child. We lived out in the woods in a very small town in northern Pennsylvania. Since my mom was a recluse, I rarely saw anyone, except for at school. Therefore, I felt terribly alone and knew I didn’t have one person in the world who cared about me or what I was going through since the other family members were in denial about my mom’s mental illness and were encouraged by her to also think poorly of me. My mom only abused me when we were alone so no one actually witnessed it. I was shunned by my whole family. Anyways, when this song wa released, I was 15 and my mom had just put me in a mental hospital where I had 20 shock treatments because of my depression and also my mom wanted to make sure no one believed anything I said about her so she made up a lot of lies to get me admitted to the mental hospital. When I first heard this song, it was like I was awake for the first time in my life! I finally felt what it was like to have a person really care about another human being because I didn’t even know that was even possible. I felt like it was love from God coming to me through this song so I 100% agree that this song was a gift straight from God for Skylark to sing. I experienced it first-hand! It is such a powerful song and helped me so much to get through such rough times. I would always pretend this song was being sung just for me to make me feel special. I still have struggles now but it was like my life really started to improve once this song was released and I could experience what love was. What an amazing, amazing song!!!

  28. This was my 1st wife’s favorite song…..kinda like her theme song about herself…that was 35 years ago……I have always loved this song…….from the haunting lyrics and Donnie’s soulful voice to the wailing guitar solo…I feel it down deep each time I listen to it……thank you, David, for such a touching song.

  29. I was a young kid when I first heard this song.I was blown away by the sheer magic of the melody and the arrangent.The lyric’s were great too,but the full impact never hit me until I fell in love with my wife.Through the year’s I have continued to love this song.two year’s agao,my wife died,and my world has been a dark and lonely place.About six month’s ago,I met a beautiful young lady who make’s me feel alive again,and I find myself hopelessly in love with her.You know what?”wildflower” is constantlly playing in my head every time I think of her! Her love and the majestic healing qualitie’s of this song make me whole again.I consider her a gift from God,And it’s not surprising that this song is the soundtrack.

  30. Hi David
    It is very heart warming to read all of these testimonials. You must feel very proud after all these years that people are still inpsired by your words. Have you ever written any more songs. I didn’t know that Doug was involved with the David Foster Outreach. Take care. Your cousin Janet

  31. When I was a little girl very early teen I wrote a song poem titled Wildflower. The words are an exact copy to the Dave Richardson version. I don’t know what magical power would have two minds scratching out the exact poem on the ends of their pencils. I was always running for the dictionary checking for correct spellings and finding the words I wanted in my poems so it took me longer than 15 minutes! Yea Lots longer because I was crying sobbing between verses. My Wildflower was my own personal emotions of my thus far life! I finished my exact copy of the world known words to Wildflower and I did what would be one of my greatest debt I never owed! I mailed Wildflower poem to supposed music company! My poem was mailed back to with a fancy document saying how this was not what they were looking for at this time. “Thank-you but we are not interested.” I think Dave Richardson and I have met in the worst of circumstances. I have this dream being still a child that we can one day meet again converse comply admit discuss confess agree make amends. I have cried being a lady! The rain has fallen swelling my eyes to closure! Wanting wanting wanting my my name out of silence also near next to Wildflower! Wow! Linda White

  32. A friend suggested this song captured ourselves. As soon as I heard it, it flooded back memories as a teen, when life was full of uncertainty, and at a crossroads.Like many, there was sadness of the many losses we experience, large and small. The song gave me hope that one day someone would care about me as in the song. It’s as true today as then. Now that I know it’s inspiration, I am even more impressed with what has always been one of my favorite songs.

  33. My wife lost both parents before her 10th birthday. The burden & sorrow she has carried can not be measured. Like a great Phoenix she rose above insurmountable odds and became a superb human being & wonderful mother. Your song came on the radio and sent chills down my spine. {That’s a good thing.} It may as well have been written for my wife. What a gift- to impact the lives of people you will never meet or know. We have to assume there are thousands, millions perhaps- for every letter that reaches you.

  34. I wrote Wildflower! Back when I was a naive teen who was not aware of what I was doing mailed to several so called music companies and Dave Richardson stole it from me! Honest I really did! Please confess Dave Richardson!

    1. If you did write it and a record company stole it from you, you should have the copies of the turn down letter as well as your original poem copy, right? There are forensic experts that can date your original copy as well as the form letter(s) from the record companies. If you do this you may have a case, providing their findings. It’s not beyond the scope of possibilities that you are telling the truth, but if you are not, it will be easily proven and you could find yourself the one being sued.

  35. Wow! what an amazing song the words touches my soul. Even after 30 years it is such an warm and soulful the words ignite a lot of emotions. Thank you.

  36. I am going through a bitter divorce and was crying in the shower today. Then I felt ashamed for crying and feeling sorry for myself. I went out and while I was driving, God put this song in my mind. He often does that, but it is usually a “Christian” song. I am familiar with this song, but never listened to the words. I pulled up the song on YouTube and was astounded! It was God himself speaking to me through the song! It was Him comforting me in my loneliness, my heartbreak, my shame, my guilt…He was giving me permission to grieve and made it clear that He understands and loves me. I started to laugh and cry at the same time! When I read this article, it was confirmation to me that these are inspired words of God! Written in the very year I was born by a humble servant. Than you and God bless you!

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