Skylark’s Wildflower Lives On After 50 Years

Half a century after its release, the iconic Canadian pop classic hasn't wilted.

Skylark’s 1970s CanCon classic Wildflower is still blooming after half a century — and showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Anchored by the soaring, tender and unforgettable vocal refrain — “Let her cry for she’s a lady, let her dream for she’s a child” — the iconic 1973 love ballad is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. A staple of classic-rock radio, the song has survived and thrived through multiple generations and genres, being covered and sampled more than 100 times over the decades and becoming one of the most beloved and performed songs in the history of Canadian pop. Not bad for a song that almost didn’t get written, recorded or released.

With lyrics penned by a young policeman for his nurse girlfriend in Victoria — set to music by an artist he had never met and recorded in one take by an unknown Canadian band — Wildflower is a one-hit wonder whose success is an unlikely tale of luck, pluck, timing and tenacity. The track defied all odds and broke every rule to become a standard, and launch the career of one of pop music’s most successful composers and producers.

Although the tune was written and most often sung by men, it owes its enduring success in large part to three women: BJ Cook, who envisioned and formed Skylark and midwifed its record deal; legendary radio program director Rosalie Tremblay, who championed the song and pushed for its release as a single; and music publisher Valley Hennell, who has protected the copyright for half a century.

Cook and Canadian hitmaker David Foster are the two surviving members of Skylark: Guitarist/composer Doug Edwards, vocalist Donny Gerrard, bassist Steve Pugsley, drummer Duris Maxwell, keyboardist Robbie King, background vocalist Bobby Taylor and lyricist Dave Richardson have all passed. It was Cook who assembled the players and secured the Capitol Records deal that included the song — and helped launch Foster’s career. To this day, he includes Wildflower in his concerts and tips his hat to Cook.

When they met, Cook was already a pioneer in the nascent B.C. music scene. In the ’60s she honed her craft as a showgirl and singer in clubs and bars in Vancouver, opening for Johnny Cash, Della Reese, Marty Robbins and more, touring with Spanky and Our Gang and The Delights, and fronting her own band Sweet Beaver before joining Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks in Toronto. There she joined forces with a much younger Foster, and in 1971 — when Ronnie fired Foster for “looking like a cadaver on stage” — they moved back to Vancouver and founded Skylark. Cook’s connections led to the deal with Capitol and a move to L.A.

After the band’s first two singles fizzled, the label released Wildflower in February 1973 at the insistence of hitmaker Trombley at CKLW Windsor. it went to No. 1 on the Canadian adult contemporary charts, and in May 1973 peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 10 on RPM singles chart. The rest, as they say, is history.

By the time Skylark included Wildflower on their second album in 1974, it had been covered by Johnny Mathis, The New Birth, Jimmy Smith and The O’Jays. Saxophonist Hank Crawford (Ray Charles’ musical director) released an instrumental version on an album entitled Wildflower, later sampled by Tupac Shakur (Shorty Wanna Be A Thug), Kanye West (Drive Slow), Drake (Miss Me) and more. Colour Me Badd, The Neville Brothers, Lisa Fischer, Gary Morris and Blake Sheldon have helped make the song one of the most-covered tunes in Canadian history.

Wildflower continues to be sung at weddings, graduations, funerals and the Olympics. It was featured in Gangstresses, a film about prostitution; on the soundtrack for a video counselling veterans with PTSD; and on New York Undercover, whose writers didn’t know it was written by a cop. Voiced in English by Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda, it’s the theme song for the 200-episode revenge drama Wildflower on Netflix. This year it was sampled by Muslim hip-hop artist Siya in her song Together. Wildflower has been honoured with SOCAN Classic and Crystal Award and a BMI Millionaire’s Award. In 2011 it was inducted into Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Although Cook and Foster went their separate ways decades ago — after two albums, the birth of daughter Amy Skylark Foster and a divorce — she stayed in the biz, co-writing with Michael McDonald, Brenda Russell and Bill Champlin. With longtime collaborator Domenic Troiano, she wrote the themes for Night Heat, Air Waves and Hot Shots. At age 81, Cook is still rockin’ in Victoria.

For a more detailed history of Waildflower, along with a complete list of covers and sample versions, visit