Wildfire – Geography
Okay, we get it. Lyrics to songs aren’t exactly geographical reference material. Case in point: Michael Martin Murphey’s dream inspired “Wildfire.”
The lyrics of the opening verse:
“She comes down from Yellow Mountain
On a dark, flat land she rides
On a pony she named Wildfire
With a whirlwind by her side
On a cold Nebraska night”
There is no Yellow Mountain in Nebraska. In fact, there are no mountains in Nebraska. Yellow, blue, green or paisley.
Just to clarify, Nebraska’s highest point is 5,429 ft. above sea level at Panorama Point, also called Constable Mountain. You’ll find it in Bushnell, Nebraska (Population: Around 124, depending on who’s home.) Panorama Point is just a few miles from the where Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado meet. It is really an elevated piece of prairie land that is a couple hundred feet higher than Denver. But it is not a mountain.
Wildfire – The Song
Now that we’ve covered the geography lesson, the song was actually a product of a dream that Murphy had. After waking from the dream, Michael Martin Murphey wrote the song with Larry Casner.
Wildfire is about the ghost of a girl who froze in a Nebraska blizzard while looking for her lost pony. And yes, Nebraska does have ponies and blizzards. Wildfire was written from the perspective of a Nebraska farmer, or sod-buster. Murphy believes that the dream was the result of a story his grandfather told him about a Native American legend about a ghost horse.
Wildfire was co-written by Murphey and Larry Casner. Casner was a composer, arranger and collaborator for Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Mason Williams, and The Jackson Five, to name a few. Casner is also credited with nearly 1,000 TV and radio commercials as well as numerous scores for films, TV, and musical variety shows.
Wildfire did very well in 1975 as it ranked Number 1 as a Canadian Top Single, Number 3 in U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 and as U.S. Billboard’s #1 in Easy Listening.
“Wildfire” – Michael Martin Murphey and the Rio Grand Band