Indie Rock Inspired by “Alone in the Wilderness”

Most Alaskans know and love the films of Dick Proenneke – especially Alone in the Wilderness. Something about Dick’s self-reliance, the purity of his vision, and his skill at whittling wooden spoons down from giant trees… it just resonates around here.

But, you might be surprised to know that a Brooklyn-based indie rock band also draws inspiration from Proenneke’s work. So much that they’ve used that same iconic 16mm film in the recent video.

Town Square 49 connected with the band, Wild Leaves, via email:

A couple winters back, I read Sam Keith’s “One Man’s Wilderness” along with Peter Blanchard’s “We Were an Island” and was truly inspired. The idea of breaking free from the confines of society and culture which I (and many other people) was born into is liberating. It’s not an anarchists agenda, rather a humble choice to live a life that allows one to place value on what is truly important.

It’s so easy to be busy. We fill our lives with noise. We go to work, go out for drinks, watch TV and every couple months we take a weekend vacation to reset. We’ve got it all wrong. Why not focus on what’s making us hit the reset button and make a change. Why not slow down and start noticing the world around us. I guarantee we’d be happy. Dick Proenneke was.

That’s what this song is about. The need “To Be Free” and being able to say “Don’t be offended that I didn’t answer your call, I just needed to take ownership of my time.” We only get one life. We might as well find happiness while we live it.

The idea to use Dick’s footage came after watching Bob’s Swerer’s film. Listening back to the recording of “To Be Free” we saw Dick as the embodiment of the song’s message. He built his dream with his own hands. It was so much work, but the reward was priceless. To wake up each morning and see those mountains… He knew the secret.

Part of our intent in creating this video was to highlight an individual of such high character, and inspire others to dig deeper into the lessons his story teaches (rather than making a music video that is just art for arts sake). I’d be willing to bet 90% of our fans have never heard of Dick Proenneke. But thanks to the blogs who have shared our video, he is reaching new people (a younger audience, I’m sure) around the world (UK and Germany) and hopefully inspiring them as he did us.

– Adam, Wild Leaves

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