This post is part of a countdown series on songs that have stuck in my head and are part of my iTunes "hit parade" of most-played tracks. See all the posts here.
Back in the '70s, you could still back your way into an interest in jazz by listening to mainstream radio. At least as I remember it, this was when Santana and Steely Dan brought jazz elements to rock stations (FM division), and jazz-fusion artists like Chick Corea could sneak onto commerical radio playlists. I guess they were all considered "soft rock," before that genre was narrowed down to wimpy ballads -- and before "smooth jazz," which sounded like porn soundtracks for people too wasted to move very fast, became the most popular instrumental genre.
As a sensitive high-school student (i.e., fag-in-training), I listened to a lot of soft rock, mostly on WEEI-FM in Boston. (Half of my classmates listened to WBCN-FM. The other half, who considered WBCN too faggy because it played the Beatles and Elvis Costello, were loud "disco sucks!" devotees of WAAF-FM in Worcester.) The first jazz artist I liked, of course, was Chuck Mangione, because he was what cool people looked like when funky hats, vests, and suspenders were still hanging on from the '60s (except they now had to look brand new all the time).
Even I got tired of Mangione's flugelhorn, and the first jazz album I bought without it was pianist Keith Jarrett's My Song, featuring saxophonist Jan Garbarek. The track "Country" got a fair amount of airplay, and it has the comforting sound associated with smooth jazz but without the heavy blanket that would soon be thrown over the genre. I knew I had made some kind of progress in music appreciation when my parents told me to quit playing the album so loud, something they never did with Mangione.
I still play the song from time to time, mostly when I want to prep myself for leaving the house in the morning when it's gray and melancholy (not a bad thing!). There are a lot of YouTube videos featuring the song, but almost all use the music as background for bright summer scenes of lawns and waterfalls. I think it's a natural for cold, snowy days instead.
Here's one that has some snow at about the 2:40 mark: