Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

More petroglyphs

with 13 comments


During our 2014 western trip we visited several sections of Albuquerque’s Petroglyph National Monument.



Having already done that, on October 15th of this year
we spent only a short while at one section, Boca Negra Canyon.



The petroglyphed rock above reminds me of a tombstone.
The boulder at the top sported more glyphs than I noticed on any other single stone at Boca Negra Canyon.





Even if, like these petroglyphs, you’re of a certain age and you know that among the greatest songwriters for American shows and movies in the 20th century were Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter, you may never have heard of the composer Harry Warren. Born Salvatore Antonio Guaragna in 1893, he later teamed up with various lyricists to write many popular songs, especially for movies. “He wrote the music for the first blockbuster film musical, 42nd Street, choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with whom he would collaborate on many musical films.” If you’re familiar with that sort of music, you probably know “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re in the Money),” “That’s Amore,” “There Will Never Be Another You,” “The More I See You,” “At Last,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “You’ll Never Know,” and “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.”

Nevertheles, as William Zinsser noted: “The familiarity of Harry Warren’s songs is matched by the anonymity of the man… he is the invisible man, his career a prime example of the oblivion that cloaked so many writers who cranked out good songs for bad movies.” You’re welcome to read more about Harry Warren.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman





Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 17, 2022 at 4:30 AM

13 Responses

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  1. The petroglyphs look mysterious, more like symbols than actual drawings.

    Peter Klopp

    November 17, 2022 at 9:03 AM

  2. I know most of those Harry Warren songs from listening to records with my grandparents. When you gave his birth name, Salvatore Antonio Guaragna, it reminded me that in the U.S., we’re used to people “anglicizing” their names, like Warren or Irving Berlin, etc. But on a classical music station last week, they mentioned two composers who “italianized,” (my term) = Francesco Antonio Rosetti, born Anton Rösler and Giovanni Albicastro, born Johann Heinrich von Weissenburg.

    Robert Parker

    November 17, 2022 at 9:05 AM

    • You’re not “of a certain age,” but listening to records with your grandparents explains it. One of my laments is that few young people today are familiar even with the super-famous songwriters I mentioned. Twenty years ago I was appalled to find that not a single student in my honors calculus class had heard of Stephen Foster, presumably the most famous American songwriter of the 1800s.

      I’m glad you brought up the two composers who Italianized their names from German. I guess they felt Italian composers were more distinguished. In the case of Weissenburg to Albicastro, that was a translation, with the first element meaning ‘white’ and the second element meaning ‘a fortified place.’

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 17, 2022 at 12:17 PM

  3. We enjoyed our walk around there ever so much.


    November 17, 2022 at 9:17 AM

  4. I was surprised to so easily ‘read’ the stone in your third photo; I see, from left to right, an animal, a bird, and a star. Whether that’s what they were meant to represent originally may be impossible to say, but it’s certain that all those things would have been important to the people living in that area so long ago.

    I remembered every one of those songs you listed. I wonder what the petroglyph people would think about someone describing the same moon that hit their eyes as a big pizza pie? For that matter, I wonder what they’d think about pizza?

    I was surprised by your reference to William Zinsser. I’ve got three or four of his books on my shelf, and dip into them from time to time. I need to do a bit more dipping. They’re filled with wonderful bits like this: “Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” No kidding.


    November 17, 2022 at 8:15 PM

    • You’re of “a certain age,” and so you know those songs. I assume, though, that plenty of people in our age group know the rock and roll songs of the 1950s but not the “standards” and show tunes of the ’40s and ’30s.

      Your vision of the middle image on the “tombstone” as a bird got me thinking about a wing, and then I saw the petroglyph as possibly a butterfly or moth. Do you imagine a particular kind of animal for the first petroglyph on that stone. Even after your prompt, nothing comes to my mind.

      I’d never heard of William Zinsser till I read the Wikipedia article about Harry Warren, so it surprised me that not only do you know who he is, but you even have several books by him. What you quote him saying about clutter in American writing is something I’ve long applied to bureaucrats in general and to educational bureaucrats in particular.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 18, 2022 at 6:37 AM

  5. Intriguing stones – a link to long gone people. In Scotland there are ancient stones with ‘cup and ring’ markings, but their meaning is unknown.

    Ann Mackay

    November 20, 2022 at 4:58 AM

    • Most of us disappear quickly—memories and mementos of us gone in a couple of generations. And yet these stones last for thousands of years. In some cases the meaning is clear, but so many defy explanation.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 20, 2022 at 6:10 AM

  6. Interesting to see petroglyphs on rocks rather than rock walls.


    November 20, 2022 at 1:33 PM

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