I'm a feather to every wind that blows

I heard Wilko Johnson of Doctor Feelgood talking about his love of life having been told he has pancreatic cancer. He said, laughingly, 'I've been a feather to every wind that blows' which I thought was a lovely way to reflect on the happenstance in his rich life.


It brings to mind the verb 'to dander' which is used in Northern Ireland for a walk or strole. Or to be at the mercy of the four winds which is more dramatic and emphatic. Being 'a feather to every wind that blows' sounds more like being caught in the zephyrs of a summer breeze, or the momentary swirl and delight of a hay devil kicking up dry grass on an absolutley still summer's day.


The original comes from Shakespeare in The Winter's Tale where Leontes uses it to describe what has been called his 'witless affection' for Perdita, a lowly shepherd girl who turns out to be his long lost daughter. He says,' I am a feather to each wind that blows.'  See JA Williams here on p.16. The main plot of The Winter's Tale is taken from Robert Greene's pastoral romance Pandosto, published in 1588 (see The Winter's Tale). The play is often cited for the first time the word 'dildo' was used in publication although it is much older than the puiblication date of The Winter's Tale (1623).


Johnson studied English at Newcastle University. Johnson appeared in the documentary Oil City Confidential (2009), where he related his memories of Canvey Island and Dr. Feelgood. The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called the film  'the best rockumentary yet' and said that 'the most likeable thing about this very likable film is the way it promotes Wilko Johnson as a 100-1 shot for the title of Greatest Living Englishman.'


There is a track, 'A Feather for Every Wind that Blows', on Andrew Howes 2010 album, Revenant here.

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