Richie Havens – On The Turning Away


Richie Havens was a rare talent – as a singer, a guitarist, a songwriter, an artist, a poet, an actor, and especially, as a person. Instead of living “the good life” by taking advantage of celebrity worship and soulless endorsement of anything anyone’s willing to sell, he was a passionate, pro-peace activist. He educated people about ecology, imperialism and civil rights. His endeavors in the area of civil rights included advocating for the rights of the Indigenous people of North America.

In 2002 he released his 19th studio album, “Wishing Well”, and on it he recorded a unique version of a song by Pink Floyd. It’s quite different in style from the original. On Pink Floyd’s 1987 album, “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, it’s a beautifully crafted, melodic rock song with inspirational lyrics. Though the lyrics are about something horrible happening to humanity, the version by Richie Havens has a meditative quality to it. Though that might seem to be a strange mix, it may be the perfect vehicle to allow the listener to relax into a contemplative state and be open to the profound message.

The message is that we’re drowning in a cesspool of ignorance, hate and insensitivity and need to open our hearts to take an honest look at what we’re doing to each other (and to all life) in this insane world we’ve designed. We’ve allowed cruelty and indecency to prevail over kindness and compassion. We need to feel again – feel the pain and suffering we inflict on “others” and allow to spread. The cold wind of apathy is blowing out of control and people are freezing to death. A death of the heart.

Please, no more turning away.

More on Richie Havens: 


Video thanks to tedcroaker:

13 comments on “Richie Havens – On The Turning Away

  1. A soulful and sorrowful rendition. The weight on the turning away from the light.

  2. Yes. I also think it’s beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. They were from a mix of sadness and beauty. I also like Pink Floyd’s version a lot.

    It’s interesting how many people are taught to “turn the other cheek” – yet we face those who wrong us in order to fight back, but turn away from those in need. We are sick.

  3. quite beautiful interpretation of the floyd tune.
    in humanity’s remaining time
    may we caringly embrace each other 🙂

  4. That’s a beautiful thought. Let’s hope it isn’t pure fantasy. : )

  5. Thank you for this piece. Have to reblog this.

  6. You’re welcome.

    I actually experience a sort of meditation when I hear this song. While the amazing words were written by someone else (David Gilmour of Pink Floyd) Richie’s unique take on it is extraordinary. No one else could make this type of magic. Richie was one of a kind.

  7. Thanks for the reblog.

    I don’t know if you remember, but you “liked” an essay I posted about Richie Havens a couple years ago. It ends with “Freedom” from Woodstock and includes a personal experience that’s very special to me. In case you want to check it out again here’s the link:



  8. Very cool. Thanks for adding that.

    Richie Havens is a legendary figure in the world of music, but I believe too many young people aren’t aware of his genius. Some people just aren’t open to relaxing music that can transport a person to a place they’ve never been. I think they’re afraid of that place – a place where you lose your anger and blend into the music to forget about the disgustingly shitty society we’ve designed.


  9. Thanks for your comment!

  10. it can never be duplicated

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