Some years ago I was driving through the Iowa countryside, on my way back from a trip to the big city, and I was suddenly awestruck by the beauty of the gentle rolling hills and orderly rows of crops. I saw the rich black soil giving rise to sprouts of green, and thought, “It’s like black gold, rich and valuable. It’s Iowa Gold.”
And just like that, words and melody flowed into my head: “Iowa gold, this land is filled with wonder, precious as any rare jewel you could hold.”
I pulled over to the side of the road and pulled out my trusty Day-Timer and a pencil.
Words kept coming as if I was just taking dictation: “Precious to the life of this mighty nation, treasure our Iowa gold.” A chorus was born.
Now, how to start the song? Describe Iowa to those who don’t see much beyond their sides of the country. I’ve lived on both coasts, and when I moved to Iowa most everyone said, “Iowa? Isn’t that out there somewhere in the middle?”
“The West coast has mountains and a mighty ocean, on the East coast the world can be bought and sold, but here in the heartland each field is a treasure brimming with soil that is gold . . .”
The second verse of a song has to either move the story ahead, or provide a back story. What came to me next was a wave of gratitude for the various Native American tribes, the pioneers, the settlers, and the early farmers who were the careful custodians of this rich land.
“Generations before us united with nature, and nurtured the land that we now have and hold.”
Why is this land so important? In today’s global environment it goes beyond feeding a family or a tribe. This heartland provides stability and sustenance for much of the country and the world.
“The whole world depends on the fruits of our labors, depends on our Iowa Gold.”
Our job now is to keep this land rich, pure, and wholesome so that generations to come will be able to reap those fruits (and corn and wheat and soy and pumpkins and zucchini and green beans and tomatoes . . .)
I hope you enjoy this music video of “Iowa Gold”, created with the gorgeous photographs of Iowa landscape photographer Ken West.