Saturday, December 12, 2009

Almost Heaven: For John Denver

I went to a party tonight where a small group of us broke away from the main group downstairs and gathered in an artist's studio upstairs to sing old songs. It was a great time. And I remembered a song by John Denver that I really liked. It's an incredibly beautiful love song (here's the mp3) called "For You." So we looked it up online and listened to it on youtube. I remembered that I had had a truly profound connection with John Denver a few years ago when I was invited to attend a play in Denver at Christmastime about his life, called Almost Heaven. After that, I also remembered that I had also happened to be in Denver when John Denver died—me from California in Colorado, he from Colorado in California—and I heard his memorial live on the radio while I was driving somewhere—and had to stop my car and pull over; it was so moving. And I just sat there and cried.

After the play, I was tied to him in some way for awhile, and I wrote an editorial for my newsletter then, and a poem. I pulled it up tonight out of an old file folder and decided to make it available again. You can download the pdf of Almost Heaven. There is something so inspiring about the spirit he instilled in so many of his songs, and in his life. I was happy that I'd somehow come upon it again, now as we near Christmas, when it's so fitting to remember the depths of our love and passion for humanitarian service, and the magnificence of the human spirit. I mourn the lost lives of people like him—people who might have gone on to contribute so much more to humanity, who seemed to be just hitting stride. To think about it again makes me even more committed to do what I can do, for his sake, and for the others like him, who left seemingly too soon.

Not many people know that Denver was to have gone into space on the Challenger rocket. At the last minute he was replaced by Christa McCauliffe. He wrote an excruciatingly powerful song about the impact their deaths had on him, called "Flying for Me." Not too long afterward, he died similarly, in an accident in the air. We must wonder about the logistics of the soul's intent in situations like this. . .

A client sent me this photo she took of Denver, backstage after a show in his early years.