Legendary American Folksinger, Backcountry Traveler and Wilderness Advocate James “Walkin

Legendary American Folksinger, Backcountry Traveler and Wilderness Advocate James "Walkin’ Jim" Stoltz Returns to Earth

Legendary American folksinger, backcountry traveler, and wilderness advocate James “Walkin’ Jim” Stoltz passed late Friday night, September 3, 2010, at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena, Montana.

Stoltz, age 57, a veteran performer for 35 years with 12 CDs, one DVD and several books to his credit, earned his nickname “Walkin’ Jim,” by hiking more than 28,000 miles through wild country in North America. Packing a guitar and penning extraordinary lyrics along the trails, Walkin’ Jim’s always-humble-yet-strikingly-powerful songs voiced enormous respect and appreciation for the Earth, its wild places, and the wild critters that he carefully studied and truly adored.

A one-of-a-kind performer known for his powerful baritone timbre, stunning photography, humorous and elucidative stories, inspirational poetry, literally awesome lyrics, and emotion-packed vocals, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz toured extensively throughout North America for more than 35 years. His last public performance in Montana, where he lived, was on March 6, 2010, in Missoula, where he played a benefit concert and celebration for the Last, Best Place Wildlands Campaign and Wilderness Watch.

In addition to being a co-founder of the Last, Best Place Wildlands Campaign, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz co-founded Musicians United to Sustain the Environment (MUSE) to raise funds for designating unprotected public roadless wildlands as official Wilderness, award grants to grassroots conservation organizations, and to “utilize music to promote environmental awareness and protection of wild lands, wild waters, and wild lives. We are particularly interested in efforts to protect endangered or threatened species, protection of our nation’s waters, and preserving and restoring wildland habitats. Environmental education for our young — the soon-to-be stewards of our natural heritage – is also very important to us,” Walkin’ Jim wrote when he founded the group with Craig Wagner in 1998. Walkin’ Jim staffed Musicians United to Sustain the Environment until his death.

Musicians United to Sustain the Environment (MUSE) features such luminaries as Dakota Sid Clifford, Craig Wagner, Joanne Rand, Magpie, Libby Roderick, Paul Winter, Dana Lyons, Susan Grace, Karen Goldberg, Alice Di Micele, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz, David Elias, Joyce Rouse, Peter and Lou Berryman, Lydia Adams Davis, John McCutcheon, Larry Long, Country Joe McDonald, Casey Neill, Jez Lowe, Kate Bennett, Katherine Archer, Keith Hammer, Leah Wolfsong, Pete Seeger, Steve Schuch, Kat Eggleston, Bill Oliver, Tom Vincent, Betty and the Baby Boomers, Dean Stevens, Cindy Kallet, Tom Paxton, Tish Hinojosa, Gordon Bok, Emma’s Revolution, Bob Zentz, Josh White, Jr., and Paul Todd.

Grassroots conservation groups that have received grants from MUSE include: Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Friends of the Clearwater, Northwoods Wilderness Recovery, Swan View Coalition, Center for Environmental Equity, Friends of the Bitterroot, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance (now called Conservation Northwest), Native Forest Network, Wild Things Unlimited, Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Predator Conservation Alliance (now called Keystone Conservation), American Wildlands, RESTORE The North Woods, Big Sky Wildcare, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Conservation Leader’s Network, Western Watersheds Project, Endangered Species Coalition, The Heartwood Forest Council, and Forever Wild.

In 2006, beset by cancer, Walkin’ Jim Stoltz organized a 45-state outreach tour with other musicians and authors (many from MUSE), and worked with hundreds of community organizations to support clean water and to protect all public roadless wildlands and their dependent wildlife species. In tribute, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honored Stoltz with its “Outstanding Achievement Award” for his advocacy for nature and Wilderness across America.

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz was featured on radio and television shows and syndicated programs throughout North America, including National Public Radio in the United States and CBC/Radio-Canada.

CDs, DVDs, Books, Gift Cards, Free Songs, Chords, and Lyrics:

Click HERE for Walkin’ Jim Stoltz’s nine inspirational CDs and a DVD of his own and three CDs he produced for Musicians United to Sustain the Environment (MUSE).

Click HERE to listen to full versions of some of Walkin’ Jim’s songs about North American Wildlands.

Click HERE to download up to 14 free songs, straight from the heart of Walkin’ Jim.

Click HERE for one-minute-long clips from many more Walkin’ Jim songs.

Click HERE for lyrics and chords of Walkin’ Jim’s songs.

Children are encouraged to visit “Walkin’ Jim’s Kid’s Corner” by clicking HERE. Click HERE to read TRUE animal stories written by Walkin’ Jim’s many kid fans. Click HERE for the CD that Walkin’ Jim wrote especially for kids (includes the classics: Manfred the Mopey Moose, Slugs and Bugs, It Ain’t Easy Being An Ol’ Grizzly Bear, Pika, Pika , and Wild Things Need Wild Places).

After you are tantalized by the above, click HERE to purchase Walkin’ Jim’s CDs, DVDs, Books, and Gift Cards.

Other Information and Resources:

Wildlands advocates recently dedicated The Walkin’ Jim Hiking Trail, close to Arizona’s Hells Canyon Wilderness and the Center for Biological Diversity featured Walkin’ Jim on its Web site.

Visit Walkin’ Jim’s “Keeping it Wild” Web page in which Jim helps Americans take action to protect their endangered public roadless wildlands legacy.

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz was a co-author and dedicated proponent of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) , the “wildest bill on Capitol Hill,” which, when enacted, will designate 24 million acres of our roadless public wildlands legacy in Montana, Idaho, northwestern Wyoming, eastern Washington, and eastern Oregon as Wilderness.

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem is the LAST remaining functioning ecosystem in the lower 49 states where all native species still reside! The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), supported tirelessly by Idaho resident and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Carole King, will protect essential habitats for many at-risk species that characterize the Wild Nature of the northern Rockies, such as the gray wolf, bull trout, cutthroat trout (Montana’s official state fish), otter, mountain goat, mountain sheep, elk, arctic grayling, northern goshawk, boreal owl, pileated woodpecker, ferruginous hawk, Montana vole, sage thrasher, wild bison, peregrine falcon, bald eagle, pine marten, fisher, lynx, wolverine, and grizzly bear (Montana’s official state animal).

In the proud tradition of Montana’s famous conservationist and U.S. Senator, the late Lee Metcalf; NREPA will protect the public’s wildlands, wild animals, big game, pristine watersheds, and fisheries that make living in Montana, Idaho, and the Northern Rockies such a special and rare privilege.

Observations, Memorials, Tributes, Wakes, Celebrations, and Funeral Arrangements:

Walkin’ Jim’s family has assembled in Helena, Montana. Follow the latest news concerning all funeral arrangements by clicking HERE.

If you need more information, call Mr. Chris Holt at Retz Funeral Home at: 406-442-1550; or e-mail Mr. Holt at: retzfuneralhome@bresnan.net. Click HERE for Retz Funeral Home’s Web site.

Click HERE to: Send private condolences to Walkin’ Jim’s family; Sign Walkin’ Jim’s guest book; or Send flowers.

To converse and share stories with Walkin’ Jim Stoltz’s friends, family, and fans, go to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walkin-Jim-Stoltz/113598525318345?v=desc or: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walkin-Jim-Stoltz/113598525318345?v=stream.

Personal Note About A Dear, Dear Friend:

Walkin’ Jim’s life was his ministry. Jim walked the talk and he certainly walked the walk!

Jim consistently lived his life with grace and kindness. Jim reached so many people with his wonderfully creative, courageous, positive, gracious and loving energy! Watching him enthrall elementary school kids about with his stories, tall tales, and intimate knowledge about Wild country and its wild inhabitants is an experience never to be forgotten.

Walkin’ Jim will always be a vital wellspring for humans trying their best to live in symbiosis with Earth. Although we may feel pain with Walkin’ Jim’s passing, his legacy—already pure and luminous—will only grow more compelling, as subsequent generations take up Walkin’ Jim’s vocation and become vigorous spokespersons, musicians, poets, writers, lyricists, guitar players, harmonica players, and singers for our pubic roadless wildlands and Wilderness.

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz will always remain our steadfast and true friend. We hold dear so many treasured memories from our time spent with Walkin’ Jim! His sincere, bone-crushing hugs will be forever felt. Our hearts will be continually warmed, every time we experience the Wild that Jim so loved, every time we defend our priceless public wildlands legacy to which Jim devoted his life, every time we ponder Jim’s brilliant poetry and lyrics, every time we hum or sing Jim’s catchy tunes, and every time we again listen to his marvelous voice and heartfelt songs.

Health Complications and Resultant Medical Expenses:

Walkin’ Jim Stoltz had a successful kidney transplant, donated by John Giacalone, on March 16, 2004. In the fall of 2007, Walkin’ Jim learned that he had cancer in his tonsil chords and lymph nodes of his neck. Jim underwent surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The winter of 2007-2008 was a tough one, as expenses piled up and medical bills consumed most of Jim’s financial resources.

In the summer of 2008, with his characteristic indomitability, Walkin’ Jim underwent his own self-prescribed “Wilderness Therapy” and walked 460 miles through the mountains of Idaho and Montana. In 2009, Jim walked an incredible 500-mile loop through the remote mountain ranges of eastern Nevada.

In 2009 and early 2010, Walkin’ Jim toured unwaveringly with his ever-popular “Forever Wild” show, combining live music, story-telling, and poetry with stunning, multi-image slideshows to create a stirring celebration of the natural world.

Photos, taken by Janet Zimmerman and others, from Walkin’ Jim’s March 6, 2010, benefit concert and celebration in Missoula, Montana, for the Last, Best Place Wildlands Campaign and Wilderness Watch are available upon request.

Walkin’ Jim’s aplomb was such that most of those attending his final Montana concert were unaware of his throat cancer, ensuing surgery, and extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

After Walkin’ Jim returned from his spring 2010 concert tour, doctors in Seattle and Billings found that his cancer has spread. Jim’s bills for hospitals, doctors, tests, high-cost pharmaceuticals, and medical-related travel grew exponentially.

Walkin’ Jim chose to fundraise with the National Transplant Assistance Fund (NTAF), because NTAF provides both tax-deductibility and fiscal accountability. Contributors are assured that all donated funds will be used only to pay or reimburse Jim’s medically-related expenses. To support Walkin’ Jim’s health care, please click this Contribute Now hyperlink. All contributions of any amounts will be greatly appreciated!

Please help spread the word. To e-mail others who might also want to help pay down Walkin’ Jim’s medical bills, click HERE and type in as many e-mail addresses as you wish.

For more information, contact the National Transplant Assistance Fund at 800-642-8399. Thank you!

Ways You Can Help:

Please click HERE to make your tax-deductible contribution, to Walkin’ Jim’s health care fund.

Please click HERE to purchase Walkin’ Jim’s CDs, DVDs, Books, and Gift Cards. In addition to enriching your life and spreading Jim’s message to friends, family, and loved ones; your buying Jim’s CDs, DVDs, books, and gift cards will help his family resolve Jim’s high medical bills.

Walkin’ Jim was a strong supporter of the National Transplant Assistance Fund. Through 26 years of service, NTAF has helped more than 4,000 patients, their families and communities nationwide raise $64 million for uninsured medical expenses. Click HERE to learn more and contribute to NTAF in Walkin’ Jim’s name. Click HERE to sign up for NTAF’s bi-monthly e-mailed newsletter.

Walkin’ Jim’s family may designate other nonprofit organizations to receive donations, tributes, memorials, and contributions to continue Walkin’ Jim’s legacy. Click HERE to keep informed concerning Jim’s family’s decisions and please contribute generously in Jim’s name.

His Spirit is Still on the Run:

As I write this, I listen to Walkin’ Jim’s seminal “Spirit is Still on the Run,” the original classic vinyl album, complete with Jim’s kind personal note inscribed when he gave me the album 26 years ago. The album’s incredible title track describes a young person’s plaintive queries—“What Happened?”

Spirit Is Still On The Run

By Walkin’ Jim Stoltz

Daddy, what ever happened to the old buffalo,
I know they don’t roam here no more,
Because at school today, they say they’ve gone away,
But no one ever says just what for.

Well now listen my son, I’ll tell you how the West was won,
How the herds fell to the big needle guns,
But, the ghosts of them herds still pound o’er the earth,
And, their Spirit is still on the run.

(Chorus̶ —Upton Elementary School children singing in unison with Walkin’ Jim):

Yes, their spirit is still on the run, it’s the American dream movin’ on,
Their memory is free, left to you and to me, and the Spirit is still on the run.

Daddy, what ever happened to the ol’ grizzly bear,
I know he once roamed the west wide,
But at school today they say he’s pushed back to stay,
In the mountains where he has to hide.

Well, now listen my son, I’ll tell you about these proud ones,
Where they stalk, all others walk small,
But man to his shame, can’t stand the untamed,
And there’s some that wouldn’t have him at all.

(Chorus̶ —Upton Elementary School children singing in unison with Walkin’ Jim):

Yes, their spirit is still on the run, it’s the American dream movin’ on,
Their memory is free, left to you and to me, and the Spirit is still on the run.

Daddy, what ever happened to the big piney forests,
And the prairies that stretched out like seas,
Because the schoolbooks they say, these were all in the way,
When the settlers come a-swarmin’ like bees,

Now, listen my son, yes, all these have gone,
It’s sad, but it’s not been in vain
Their life’s blood was bought and with the Spirit it brought,
A whole country was born into fame.

(Bridge):

And all that have died or been swept to the side,
They still give us hope every one,
They give us dreams of the free, what has been and can be,
And their Spirit is still on the run.

(Chorus̶ —Upton Elementary School children singing in unison with Walkin’ Jim):

Yes, their Spirit is still on the run, it’s the American dream movin’ on,
Their memory is free, left to you and to me, and the Spirit is still on the run.

©1984 by Walkin’ Jim Stoltz and Lone Coyote Records
Walkin’ Jim Music, BMI

For those who are not old-timers enamored with bulky turntables and the good ol’ days of vinyl with absolutely gorgeous record jackets that were actually readable, Jim’s “Spirit is Still on the Run” album has been combined with his equally-great “Forever Wild” album into one CD, so you can now buy BOTH albums for only $14 by clicking HERE. In addition to “Spirit is Still on the Run,” this combined CD also includes the Jim’s indispensible sage counsel contained within “I Walk With the Old Ones” and “Follow Your Heart.”

Follow Your Heart:

For an even greater version of “Follow Your Heart,” guaranteed to give you goose bumps, purchase Walkin’ Jim’s “Oh, What A Life” CD, a remarkable live concert recorded before an enraptured audience at Jim’s beloved Lone Mountain Ranch, where, for decades, Jim hosted popular winter sleigh rides and sing-alongs. For an-all-too-brief snippet from this incredible live performance; once again to feel, hear, and touch Jim, click HERE.

Follow Your Heart

By Walkin’ Jim Stoltz

(VERSE):

In this life that we’re all living with all its twists and turns,
It’s so easy to lose our way, forget the lessons that we learned,
But, the road that leads us on will always bring us back,
Once you’ve walked your own trail, and stepped in your own tracks.

(AUDIENCE HELPS JIM SING THE FOLLOWING CHORUS):

Follow your heart, that’s where to begin
Chase down those dreams and go a-dancin’ with the wind
Listen to the love that you find along the way
Let your light shine in, and sing your life away.

(VERSE):

Truth is a word, but it’s so often hard to find,
Searchin’ through the mirrors offered up by time
To face it on your own, and to look it in the eye
Will take all you have to give, but ain’t it worth the try.

(AUDIENCE AGAIN HELPS JIM SING CHORUS):

Follow your heart, that’s where to begin
Chase down those dreams and go a-dancin’ with the wind
Listen to the love that you find along the way
Let your light shine in, and sing your life away.

(VERSE):

Listen to the song of the Earth as she turns,
Bask in the life of the sun as she burns,
Seek out the power in your own minds eye,
Listen to your heart, it’ll teach you by and by.

(AUDIENCE, ONE MORE TIME, HELPS JIM SING CHORUS):

Follow your heart, that’s where to begin
Chase down those dreams and go a-dancin’ with the wind
Listen to the love that you find along the way
Let your light shine in, and sing your life away.

©1997 by Walkin’ Jim Stoltz
Walkin’ Jim Music, BMI

Forever Wild:

In conclusion, there’s little to say that Walkin’ Jim Stoltz hasn’t already beautifully articulated. Perhaps we should conclude with Walkin’ Jim’s best known anthem, “Forever Wild.”

In 1986, we closed each of our touring “Wild West Exposition” pro-wildlands, pro-Wilderness road shows with this sacred composition. Audiences everywhere always joined the cast of the Wild West Exposition in singing the pleas of Walkin’ Jim’s chorus. At song’s end, as Jim’s final guitar chord resonated and then gradually receded into the absolute stillness of entire crowds held breathless, there were no dry eyes.

Forever Wild
By Walkin’ Jim Stoltz

There’s a magic in the air, that I feel when I am there,
It plays straight to my heart, and lays it all a’bare,
It’s in the cry of the eagle and the deer so meek and mild,
It’s in the rise of a mountain, let it stay Forever Wild.

Forever wild, Forever Wild
Let it stay, Forever Wild.

It’s in all that is not tame, and some that can’t be named,
It’s in the fog down in the valley, and the scent of summer rain,
It’s in the scream of a lion when she’s soundin’ like a child,
It’s in the song of a river, let it stay Forever Wild.

Forever wild, Forever Wild
Let it stay, Forever Wild.

Now the Earth it holds the key to all that shall be free,
It’s in the peace of the desert and the wisdom of the trees,
It’s in the grace of a swan’s wing and the grizzly when she’s riled
It’s in all the love I bear it, let it stay Forever Wild.

Forever wild, Forever Wild
Let it stay, Forever Wild.

There are those of my own kind, they’re runnin’ fast, but goin’ blind
And the only thing they worship, is their God, the dollar sign
We must fight* them with our Spirit, with our might, and with our guile
We must show them that the answer: It must be Forever Wild.

Forever wild, Forever Wild
Let it stay, Forever Wild.

Forever wild, Forever Wild
Let it stay, Forever Wild.

By Walkin’ Jim Stoltz on Wild Wind Records
©1986 by Walkin’ Jim Stoltz
Walkin’ Jim Music BMI

* Editor’s Note: In his most recent concerts, Walkin’ Jim substituted the word “teach” for “fight.”

Just How Big Is the Heart of Humankind?

Now it is time for us to pause, take deep breaths, say prayers for our dear friend, lovingly and respectfully listen to Walkin’ Jim’s “Oh, What a Life,” downloadable HERE for free, weep, and gratefully allow this magnificent gentle soul to return to Mother Earth.

Oh, What A Life We Could Live

By Walkin’ Jim Stoltz

There’s an old owl flyin’ free, and he’s callin’ out to me.
What can I tell him as the big trees fall?
And he slips on through the cracks. Oh, I can’t turn my back,
For his kind is our kind, and the writing’s on the wall.

If we could see this world through the eyes of those
Who keep sharing when there’s nothing left to give
If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

There’s a salmon swimmin’ deep, her destiny to keep,
How can I tell her, she’s the last of her kind?
Oh, a thousand times around, from the sea to the spawning ground,
What a cost! What a loss! To all memory, and all Time!

If we could see this world through the eyes of those
Who keep sharing when there’s nothing left to give
If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

(Bridge):

She wolf howling in the night,
She knows there’s a lesson comin’ soon.
Just how big is the heart of humankind?
Won’t you stand back and give her room?

(Audience now joins Walkin’ Jim on chorus)

If we could see this world through the eyes of those
Who keep sharing when there’s nothing left to give
If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

(Audience again joins Walkin’ Jim on chorus):

If we could see this world through the eyes of those
Who keep sharing when there’s nothing left to give
If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

If we could walk this land with respect for all
Oh, what a life we could live.

(Just Walkin’ Jim):

Oh, what a life we could live.

Oh, what a life we could live.

©1997 by Walkin’ Jim Stoltz
Walkin’ Jim Music, BMI

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Legendary Folksinger Walkin’ Jim Stoltz Happily Returns to Mother Earth

Jim, thank you for being…..

With the deepest possible love and appreciation,

Your Forever Friend,

Paul Richards

Dispatches from the Wildlands: http://blogs.alternet.org/paulrichards/

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

– Henry David Thoreau