Bobby Bridger's song "Heal In The Wisdom" has been the anthem of the Kerrville Folk Festival for over 25 years, providing rich memories of closing the festival with singers, songwriters, and music fans alike.
The song idea began in grief and mourning in 1978, as he lost two friends in separate incidents within a three-week period. Ironically, at the time, he had been writing an album with an evolving theme of releasing the past and healing into the future, and turned to his new songs to relieve his sorrow. As he played his then new song "The Hawk" to ease his sorrow the phrase "wisdom to heal" suddenly turned around suggesting to him to "heal in the wisdom" of surrendering to the fact that there are some things we simply will never understand in this life. With that idea the song was born.
Within days of writing "Heal In The Wisdom," he was backstage at Kerrville for a performance, rehearsing the fresh new song with old friend and guitarist John Inmon. At that exact moment, Rod Kennedy, the festival producer and owner of Quiet Valley Ranch, came backstage and asked: "Who wrote that song?" Bridger explained it was a new song, and Rod promptly announced, "I want that song to be the anthem of the festival!" That very evening, Rod introduced the new anthem and the audience roared its approval after spontaneously joining in performing the song. From that point forward the song has closed the festival with the tradition of the audience singing along arm in arm.
Although at the time Bridger was very busy with a theatrical career, the individual power of "Heal In The Wisdom" nevertheless continued to grow and spread. The song quietly developed a life of its own and returned to him in the most interesting and rewarding ways: as a funeral hymn to comfort the grieving; as an anthem of several Alcoholics Anonymous chapters around the country; a rallying song for peace and inter-faith organizations; and, as a theme for outward bound environmentalist groups, corporate executive training programs and political campaigns. He sang it deep in East Texas for Ann Richards as she stumped on her way to the governor's mansion; he sang it on the steps of the state capitol in Austin after Inauguration (and it is one of Mayor Wynn's favorite songs to this day!). When touring outback Australia in 1986 and in Moscow in 1987 he encountered people who already knew his song and performed it for him (to his surprise!). However, Bridger believes his greatest musical experience with "Heal In The Wisdom" remains leading the "Kerrvert Khoir" every year, saying "it is about as close to heaven as it gets; in that aspect alone the song has truly been a blessing to me."
After several years away from the recording industry, Bridger knew it was time to record the album, "Heal In The Wisdom". He went back to his long time friend and musical producer Fred Carter, Jr., a then in-demand session guitarist and producer (working with The Band, Roy Orbison, and Simon & Garfunkel), to get things started. From there they collected a powerful force of musicians from both Nashville and Austin. The Nashville team included arranger and orchestrater Bill Ginn (keyboards), Joe Osborn (bass), Jim Wolf (drums), and Fred Carter, Jr. and Bridger on guitars. The Muscle Shoals Horn Section also enthusiastically agreed to play on a couple tracks ("Eternally New" and "Lighten up and Let it Go"). Bridger returned to Austin with the basic tracks and utilized Austin's marvelous pool of local talent to do over-dubbing: John Inmon, Ray Bensen, Mark Capps, Julie Christensen, Layton DePenning, Bob Livingston, Tina Marsh, Andy Murphy, Gary P. Nunn, Gary Powell and Natalie Zoe. In 1978, "Heal In The Wisdom" became the first record produced and published on Bridger's record label, Golden Egg Records.
We hope you enjoy listening to this song, and browsing through the photos from the 2006 Kerrville Folk Festival, where Bridger performed the song with the Austin Orchestra and David Amram. Keep coming back for updates - and look for "Heal In The Wisdom" to be available soon on iTunes and other online stores.