Track 7 Cottonwood Dreams


Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded February 16 & 17. Mixed February 18, 2016.

Genesis: This recording is a birthday present for my wife, Theresa Lippert, who was born on February 19. Theresa has been the inspiration for many of my songs and is my biggest supporter. She loves this song, so I decided to give it a whirl this week.

Every few years the cottonwood trees in our neighborhood release their seeds in cottony strands. The wind blows them here and there, covering our yards like a dusting of snow. I jotted down the title “Cottonwood Dreams” in the early 2000s. On July 1, 2009 I found some facts about cottonwood trees on the Internet and wrote the lyrics in one sitting. I could not find music to fit the words, so six years ago yesterday I sent the lyrics to my friend Tom Ryan, asking if he could come up with a tune.

Tom stunned me when he emailed an mp3 the next day. He created an evocative melody but he also produced a beautiful arrangement that included acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, and a harmony vocal. (A link to his recording can be found below.)   AND he tightened up the lyrics.

My arrangement is totally acoustic and it has a folky swing feel to it. The mandolin lick that serves as the instrumental glue to the song came to me out of the blue. I harmonized it with another mandolin part higher up the neck.

Production: Acoustic bass, acoustic guitars, ukulele, and mandolin.

Tom Ryan Version


Cottonwood Dreams

Cottonwood snow

On the grass in my yard

Can’t rake it up

It’s much too hard

Have to be calm

Wait for the day

When the rains come down

Melt it away.


Cottonwood Dreams

Blowing over the plains

Pushed by tornadoes

And midsummer rains.

Cottonwood blows

All over the land

From the great North Woods

To the Rio Grande

They live till a hundred

Go 60 feet high

Suck out the water

Till the wells run dry

Cottonwood lumber

It’s cheap and it’s coarse

Like a lover’s apology

No remorse


When the wind rustles

Those cottonwood leaves

The humming bird listens

The mockingbird grieves

I’ve made resolutions

Hatched crazy schemes

They’ve all blown away

With my cottonwood dreams

Cottonwood seeds

On the soles of my boots

Planting new trees

Yes, I’m in cahoots

Old Mother Nature

Sure has her ways

She’s like a good coach

Everyone plays


Copyright 2010 Fred Grittner and Tom Ryan All Rights Reserved


Track 7 Cottonwood Dreams

6 thoughts on “Track 7 Cottonwood Dreams

  1. TR says:

    This little song just keeps seeing the light of day, doesn’t it?
    Damned proud of our collaboration —
    Cath had an interesting take (and of course, loved the fact that you included an Uke); my version reminded her of a prancing horse…yours of a rocking horse.
    Interesting how music affects us all


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