A friend sent me a link to a John Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary You Tube video of John’s song, “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LvtDb0ZPwQ&NR=1) John joins them on stage as they sing his song. I loved seeing it for it was the genesis of John’s entrance into the world arena of global stardom. Sure he had many other public appearances with the Chad Mitchell Trio and then beyond into the expanded wonder of public acclamation. But Peter, Paul and Mary’s recording opened the public door of John’s writing and performing talent.
John Denver was a friend of mine and I do not use the expression loosely. We did not hang out on a regular basis, but we did share what friends share. Golf, hiking, private dinners, flying experiences since we were both pilots, a professional relationship through broadcast interviews, Windstar Symposiums, and most of all deep personal and spiritual conversations on what it would take to make our glorious planet sustainable, renewable and respected for its sentient awareness.
Through the years of being in the public eye, as a news broadcaster it has been my experience that people who meet you once, in a shake hands only arena or even sharing a few pleasantries over a chance encounter, are prone to say they are friends. And by virtue of being allowed into people’s homes on a nightly basis, to some of them, you become a defacto friend, family member, lover, and even enemy.
Friends! People use that term loosely in their description of acquaintances, casual or peripheral, and it’s usually to gently amplify their importance or stature, as they perceive it, or to impress others whom they think might then think better of them because they know someone who everyone else seems to know. One resonates with the name, but not necessarily the personality.
Being in the public eye is not all that it’s cracked up to be. It has more down sides than it does advantages, but that’s only known by the ones who are in the proverbial “eye”. Those who are not there can’t see it and never will understand the strain or tension fame brings to the individual private self. There are personal and professional responsibilities one cannot understand or embrace unless you have experienced notoriety on a protracted basis.
As I watched the video of John’s early entrance into public adulation I was again saddened, not only by his early passing in a plane accident in California, but too that our planet has lost an intelligent and entertaining voice through words and song to encourage all of us to acknowledge our connection to nature and to champion the truth that we are the nature we abuse.