I feel a bit guilty that October 12 came and went without my remembering that it was the 11th death anniversary of John Denver, one of the greatest musicians of all time. My only excuse is that I have been preoccupied with a lot of concerns (The unelected President has a way of keeping us busy.) over which he, were he alive, would be greatly disturbed. I have also been despondent over the fate of someone - a lawyer very, very special to me who was beaten by cancer and is slowly dying.
John Denver is (Yep, I speak of him in the present tense. He will never be gone.) one of my strongest influences. He helped construct the highway I would deliberately travel when I was old enough to know right from wrong, the very same highway I am treading as a human being, as a woman, as a lawyer. Since I was a young, I have been listening to and singing his songs denouncing the expenditure of money on guns instead of food for the poor, amplifying the voices of children in war-torn areas, seeking the empowerment of women, giving a voice to the unheard, and, yes, to Annie's Song, too. (I made it a point to buy all his albums.) Like James Balao, he chose to tread the road less traveled but the right one nonetheless.
In a published article last year, I wrote: "I never met John Denver. But we could actually have. The virtues he kept searching are the same ones I pine for. His music heavily influenced my life. This world is still as turbulent as he left it. Poverty is massive. Imperialism is still the norm for the First World. But there are people who, because of John Denver's music, are standing firm in the name of the peace, justice, love and equality to which he dedicated his career. This gives us hope that all is not lost. His life was short. But his influence outlives him." I also published a poem in his memory which was posted here.The poem was shared to Denver's family by Hank Bruce, author of the book Peace Beyond All Fear: A Tribute To John Denver's Vision on the commemoration of the musician's 10th death anniversary in Denver, USA last year. It is an understatement to say I love this man Denver. I honor him as well. So, I really felt remorseful that his 11th death anniversary last October 12 escaped my memory. It was a good thing that while I was driving this afternoon, I was listening to an FM radio station and suddenly, it played his "Leaving On A Jetplane." Then, my oversight hit me.
At the height of the protests against the Vietnam War in 1971, John Denver gave a very haunting rendition of the anti-war song, "The Strangest Dream" recorded on video which I posted here. It is my wish that we listen to it intently and share Denver's dream for peace in this world of injustice. And let us remember that peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice. It is also the presence of food on the table in a country like ours where there is so much wealth.