Who, Exactly, Was the Song “Windy” About?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: “Windy” was originally written about the hippie boyfriend of the songwriter, with the lyrics re-written by The Association to be about a woman.

The infectious pop classic, “Windy,” was released by the band The Association in 1967 and was a smash hit, going all the way to #1 on the Billboard charts.

The song is about an engaging young woman named Windy, about whom it was sung:

Who’s trippin’ down the streets of the city
smiling at everybody she sees
whose reaching out to capture a moment
everyone knows it’s Windy…

For years, the rumor was that while the character in the song is definitely a woman, that the song initially was written about a MAN, the hippy boyfriend of the songwriter, before the Association changed it.

For example, here’s a quote from the book, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader (a collection of interesting facts and lists):

Although the Association sang about a girl named Windy, the song was actually written about a man. The composer was Ruthann Friedman and Windy, her boyfriend, was an original hippie. In that context the lyrics make a lot more sense. Example: he’s “tripping” down the streets of the city.

Is it true?

Friedman has long denied this story. However, she has admittedly been not all together consistent in her description of the story, but one thing she HAS been consistent about is denying that it was about either a boyfriend of hers or about a hippie at all (which, in turn, specifically refutes the whole “it’s ‘tripping’ as in ‘tripping on drugs,’ man!!” interpretation of the song). So I think it’s pretty safe to say that it is not about a hippy and/or her boyfriend at the time.

The most recent version of the story that I have seen came from Songfacts, who Friedman told:

[H]e was another singer/songwriter, and not “a freewheeling Haight Ashbury Hippy” as often reported. Friedman says of the song: “I have heard so many different permutations of what the song was about. Here is the TRUTH. I was sitting on my bed – the apartment on the first floor of David Crosby’s house in Beverly Glenn – and there was a fellow who came to visit and was sitting there staring at me as if he was going to suck the life out of me. So I started to fantasize about what kind of a guy I would like to be with, and that was Windy – a guy (fantasy).

The legend is…

STATUS: Mostly False, With Perhaps Some Truth Mixed In

Thanks to Songfacts for getting the information and thanks to Ruthann Friedman (whose website can be found here) for giving the information!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

10 Responses to “Who, Exactly, Was the Song “Windy” About?”

  1. I always thought the song Windy was about a girl flying on acid. A lot of the music and lyrics of the time had to do with the peace, love dope mentality of the 60s.

  2. Windy, about windowpane lsd.

  3. This was the first 45 I ever bought. I was 11 in 1967. The whole thing was just too illusive for me at the time. Yeah I got it was about a girl. Too moody for my liking. It would have been alot more interesting to learn about being@ David Crosby’s pad. I wasted alot of brain power on this song.

  4. my name is windy. my parents named me after the song. I always thought the song was about a girl who was happy, crazy and free with no cares

  5. I don’t remember the song. I was trippin’ down the streets of the city at the time……… 😉

  6. At a time when Newsweek decried “Puff the Magic Dragon” as a song about smoking dope (and my mom refused to let us play it), artists spent some time defending their lyrics. In that vein, one of the better stories about this song developed. The story, which made the best push-back to holier-than-thou critics was that the song is about the Holy Spirit. Listen to it again with that thought in mind. Pretty cool, huh?

  7. In the series Breaking Bad, year 3, they play Wendy at the opening scene with regards to a prostitute on drugs, walking the streets, having sex with multiple Johns in their cars. Their interpretation of who Wendy was seems much more plasable then all the other explanations I’ve read.

  8. I think the scene in Breaking Bad works specifically because that’s not what the song is about, so it’s a fun contrast.

  9. “She’s reaching down to give me a rainbow”
    “Rainbows” were a popular drug in the ’60’s, a barbiturate like “reds”, which I believe were outlawed because of fatalities when mixed with alcohol.

  10. The line about “give me a rainbow” refers to oral sex. This has been confirmed by Dennis Yost of the Association. In fact, I am wondering if tha propensity to do that is what gave Windy her name. After all, what does the wind do? It blows.

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