A Song Of Tribute To The Lost Town Of Paradise

Dec 13, 2018
Originally published on December 13, 2018 11:05 am

In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, two musicians from Paradise, Calif., wrote a tribute to their hometown which was destroyed by the fire. The song, called "One of These Days," quickly went viral online.

I can still remember the first time that I fell in love with this town. The tall green trees, the mountain breeze, the girl that made me shake in my knees. I'm going to miss it. I already miss it.

One of these days we're going to see the sunset rise in Paradise, one of these days we're gonna rebuild that church on the corner.

Now, Nathaniel Smith and Miykael Goodwin have released a professionally produced version to raise money for Camp Fire victims.

When Smith and Goodwin of Cold Weather Sons first wrote "One of These Days," they were just two guys on two acoustic guitars, one of them gifted to Smith after he lost everything in the Camp Fire.

Like others forced to evacuate, Smith got his first look at the rubble of his home just last week.

The 33-year-old tried his luck in Nashville for three years awhile back. "I was an assigned song writer there with Centricity Music," he says. But he eventually came back home when his music career didn't take off.

As word of his situation spread on social media, Smith heard from two-time, grammy-winning music producer Chuck Butler and from Joël Bruyere that a studio date awaited him and Goodwin if they could make it to Nashville. Goodwin's family came up with the airfare.

"It was really emotional for me because I haven't been back in nine or 10 years since I left," Smith said.

Despite the slick sound of the new track, Goodwin said the heart of the song is still there. "It's a fully produced track with drums and keyboards and electric guitars, but the vocals are the main point. It's about the message of the song, really," he said.

Goodwin lives in Chico now, but he grew up in Paradise and said nearly all of his school buddies either lost their homes or know people who have. "Who knows what the future holds?" he said, although his hope is that the town will rebuild.

The men intend to donate the proceeds to Camp Fire victims once they meet with an accountant and figure out how.

Smith qualifies as a refugee. He's living with his dad in Chico now, and he's got a GoFundMe page up in hopes of raising enough money to buy an acoustic electric guitar for the benefit concerts they're preparing to perform at in the coming months.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

After the Camp Fire in Northern California, two musicians from Paradise wrote a tribute to their hometown, a town that was destroyed in that fire. The song is called "One Of These Days." It went viral online, and now they've made a professional version of it. Here's Rachael Myrow of member station KQED.

RACHAEL MYROW, BYLINE: Like so many of his neighbors in Paradise, Nate Smith survived the Camp Fire with the clothes on his back and not much else. So when Smith and his co-composer Miykael Goodwin performed their song for me in Chico, Smith was playing on a guitar gifted to him by somebody who found out about his plight online.

COLD WEATHER SONS: (Singing) 'Cause I can still remember the first that I fell in love with this town.

MYROW: Smith and Goodwin grew up in Paradise. Goodwin says the lyrics in the song acknowledge what they've lost.

MIYKAEL GOODWIN: It was really based on memories from our life up there. To be honest, we wrote it for us and our friends and had no idea it was going to get this much attention. And we're really glad it's helping people.

MYROW: Smith and Goodwin have performed the song at memorials for some of those who died in the Camp Fire, as well as fundraisers for Camp Fire victims in Butte County and beyond. But Smith adds, they also want the song to explain Paradise is worth rebuilding.

NATHANIEL SMITH: I wanted it to be a song of hope that would really reignite everybody's heartbeat, you know?

MYROW: Their home recording of "One Of These Days" received more than 115,000 hits on Facebook, not to mention local and regional press attention. Then, a Grammy Award-winning producer Smith knew from when he tried his luck in Nashville a few years back contacted them. He offered free studio time to the men if they could get there. A couple of Goodwin's relatives obliged with plane tickets. And a few weeks later, there was a new version of the song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE OF THESE DAYS")

COLD WEATHER SONS: (Singing) The tall green trees, the mountain breeze, the girl that made me shake in my knees - I'm going to miss it. I already miss it.

GOODWIN: The heart of the song is still there. It's a fully produced track with drums and keyboards and electric guitars, but the vocals are really the main point. It's about the message of the song really.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE OF THESE DAYS")

COLD WEATHER SONS: (Singing) I'm going to miss it. I already miss it. Whoa....

MYROW: It's a message of hope in a time that's pretty grim for tens of thousands of people displaced from Paradise, whether they're planning to rebuild or not. Smith is living with his dad now in Chico. Other wildfire refugees have spread out to Sacramento and even out of state, wherever they found a place to land. But Smith says the communities around Paradise have pulled together in a way he doesn't remember from the past.

SMITH: This is the first time that I've felt like everybody's family. Like, you go into any store, and now you stop and talk for 20 minutes. And like - oh, you lost your home? I lost my home. Oh, come here.

MYROW: His guitar was a gift. The studio time was a gift. And the song is a gift, too. The men intend to donate whatever proceeds they get from sales of the song online to Camp Fire victims.

For NPR News, I'm Rachael Myrow in Chico.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE OF THESE DAYS")

COLD WEATHER SONS: (Singing) Never going to take our home - one of these days, we're going to see the Sunset rise in Paradise. One of these days, we're going to rebuild that church on the corner. One of these days... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.