Ask the Hippie, Vol. 1, Issue 7: Orion!

This turned up in the comments section of the Hit Me With Your Best Shot page. Lest it fly under the radar, I am putting it up as an Ask the Hippie entry.

Reader Scollay Petry tracked down the song, found out the name of the composer, and came up with this response:

Well I asked my mom about this and she contacted my music teacher at school then the publisher…. She got this response. Turns out James Zimmerman is the writer, living in NYC.


I am writing at the request of Tyson Harper, Editorial Director of the Music Department of Pearson Education, concerning your interest in the song “Orion.”

During her time as a music teacher, Ms. Harper taught this song herself, so she shares my pleasure in knowing that “Orion” has become part of your family’s musical traditions. This song was published in the 1974, 1978, 1981, and 1985 editions of the school music program Silver Burdett Music, Grade 6, published by Silver Burdett Company. “Orion” is Part 1 of a musical composition entitled Orion Suite, which was written by James Zimmerman. This piece had not been published prior to its use in the 1974 edition of Silver Burdett Music, and we negotiated the rights to use this piece through Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer.

Silver Burdett, now an imprint of Pearson Education, no longer retains the rights to use this piece. Were this not the case, we would gladly send you a copy of the song from the Silver Burdett Music, Grade 6, book. I am happy to help you locate the composer and a copy of the song, however, and I suggest the steps described below.

Contact the composer.

James Zimmerman
210 West 101st Street
Apt. 9D
New York, New York 10025

Contact the lawyer, agent for James Zimmerman.

Mr. Donald Aslan
171 East 83rd Street
New York, New York 10028

Since 1982, when we last heard from Mr. Zimmerman, the piece may have been published in publications other than Silver Burdett Music. The Harry Fox Agency, the licensing agency for the music industry, currently represents more than 27,000 publishers. To locate the composer, or a source of “Orion,” click on

HFA Online,

You might also try the “Search” links of either or both of the performing rights organizations in New York.

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.),

ASCAP (The American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers), http://www.ascap/ace (for ACE Title Search Database)

Local colleges with music education departments may have copies of Silver Burdett Music. Should you need to, I suggest you contact one of these for help in locating a copy of this now old textbook series.

We appreciate your interest in “Orion” and wish you all the best in locating a copy of the song. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions.

Susan Greene
Senior Editor
Music Publications
Pearson Education

You can bet that I will be writing to that composer — and his lawyer — and doing my best to sweet-talk him into hooking up with iTunes to get this thing out there and available for all us hippy-dippy-Lorax-reading-ecogeeks who sang it in sixth grade and really want to hear it again.

UPDATE: I am pursuing some leads on copies of the textbook (which should have melody line and lyrics) and/or teacher’s book (which will have the entire accompaniment — not just the melody) and/or a record that could possibly have the song on it. Stay tuned. We might be looking at Christmas in October for the Red Fork Hippie Chick….

UPDATE 2: “Orion” has been found. Click here to listen.


4 thoughts on “Ask the Hippie, Vol. 1, Issue 7: Orion!”

  1. I don’t know anything about “Wings,” but I’d like to track down a song that was in the second-grade Music book at West Side called “Boil That Cabbage Down”…the other night I was cooking in the kitchen and Geoff asked me what I was humming. I got really embarrassed and sang out loud, “Boil that cabbage down, down…Bake them biscuits brown, brown…” and Geoff said, “What’s the next part?” and I had to admit that I couldn’t remember how the real next lyrics went because all I remembered was six-year-old Oliver always singing, “Boil that cabbage down, down…Bake them biscuits brown, brown…The only thing that I ever did learn is the stuff in the toilet’s brown, brown…”

  2. please keep up with your efforts and, if it’s not too much to ask, please keep me updated on how to get a recording (digital or otherwise) of this song. my email address is deltaforce_iktomi(at)

    like many of my generation, i was captivated by this song as a kind in 79/80 and will remember it forever. what i remember of it has become a tradition in our family and a huge bond between my youngest son and me.

    thanks again for all your efforts, and take care –


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