Music, Movies, Second Life and Other Musings…

The Dharma of John Denver

My emotionally repressed, somewhat snobbish, Hemingway-adoring, Eastwood-admiring, Yeats-worshipping, and Boba Fett-loving first boyfriend eschewed most things sentimental, but did make an allowance for muppet-resembling John Denver, due to the Buddhist ideas expressed in Rocky Mountain High. But I always thought the following song contained the most obvious Buddhist description. I first heard Looking for Space at about age ten, and have found few songs since as spiritually compelling. It was the first, and remains one of the few, songs I can play on the guitar.

On the road of experience
I’m trying to find my own way
Sometimes I wish that I could fly away
When I think that I’m moving
Suddenly things stand still
I’m afraid ’cause I think they always will

And I’m looking for space
And to find out who I am
And I’m looking to know and understand
It’s a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I’m almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle,
Sometimes I’m deep in despair

All alone in the universe, sometimes that’s how it seems
I get lost in the sadness and the screams
Then I look in the center
Suddenly everything’s clear
I find myself in the sunshine and my dreams

And I’m looking for space and to find out who I am
And I’m looking to know and understand
It’s a sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I’m almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
and sometimes I’m deep in despair

On the road of experience
Join in the living day
If there’s an answer it’s just that it’s just that way

When you’re looking for space
And to find out who you are
When you’re looking to try and reach the stars
It’s a sweet, sweet, sweet dream
Sometimes I’m almost there
Sometimes I fly like an eagle
And sometimes I’m deep in despair
Sometimes I fly like an eagle,
like an eagle,
I go flying high.

***

John Denver was not a practicing Buddhist as far as I know, but clearly expressed a unifying, nature-based spirituality in many of his songs. Sweet Surrender is another of his melodic, direct, spiritually-encompassing examples. It remains as inspiring as ever after 35 years since my first listen.

Lost and alone on some forgotten highway,
traveled by many, remembered by few.
Looking for something that I can believe in,
looking for something that
I’d like to do with my life.
There’s nothing behind me
and nothing that ties me to
something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open, and
right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today…
And I don’t know what the future is holding in store,
I don’t know where I’m going,
I’m not sure where I’ve been.
There’s a spirit that guides me,
A light that shines for me,
My life is worth the living,
and I don’t need to see the end.

Sweet, sweet surrender,
Live, live without care,
Like a fish in the water,
Like a bird in the air.
Sweet, sweet surrender,
Live, live without care,
Like a fish in the water,
Like a bird in the air!

***

I’ve been drawn to classic mythology ever since my Grandmother Cathleen brought back a gloriously illustrated children’s book from Greece when I was a toddler and couldn’t even read yet, so John Denver earned a very special place in my heart for combining spiritual yearning with characters from Greek mythology. And then, I think most people who were kids in the early, innocent years of space exploration were interested in astronomy, so he got extra points for the cosmic imagery(echoing the mythological constellations) in Spirit!


His spirit joined as so was formed
Ten thousand years ago.
Between the swan and Hercules where even dark clouds glow.
To live with grace, to ride the swell, to yet be strong of will.
To love the wind, to learn its song, an empty space to fill.

Apollo taught me to rhyme,
Orpheus taught me to play.
Andromeda cast down her sign
And Vega lights my way.

Smoke rings in a galaxy,
An endless flight through time.
Lyra gave her harp to him and left him free to climb.
A winter’s journey from the moon to reach the summer sun.
To rise again, to sing for you
A song that’s yet unsung.

Apollo taught me to rhyme,
Orpheus taught me to play.
Andromeda cast down her sign
And Vega lights my way.

His spirit joined as so was formed
Ten thousand years ago.
Between the swan and Hercules where even dark clouds glow.
To live with grace, to ride the swell, to yet be strong of will.
To love the wind, to learn its song, an empty space to fill.

2 responses

  1. Heya hon!

    My favorite of his will always be Rocky Mountain Suite (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cykMCpMvEWA)

    🙂

    October 4, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    • I remember! Cold nights in Canada, of course. But then there is Calypso, Sunshine On My Shoulders, Annie’s Song, Perhaps Love(Annie’s stated favorite), This Old Guitar, Eclipse, Fly Away(written specifically to duet with ONJ) err… this list doesn’t appear to have an ending. Did I ever tell you my parents took me to see him on the Back Home Again tour in 1978 or so? What a treasured memory that is! 🙂

      October 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s