I spent part of the morning doing something I don’t think I have ever done before. I paid respect to someone I did not know. Well, I guess I knew part of him. He seemed to know me, anyway, as a 16 year old pimple faced young man whose face was horribly adorned by glasses and braces. He actually seemed to express parts of my awkward adolescent life and the things I was feeling at that time. He expressed it so magnificently through his music.
I am the type of person who isn’t big on dates but if you were to ever do a soundtrack to my life, I could tell you exactly where I was and what I was doing by the song that was playing on the radio at the time. And at the time I was listening to the radio a lot, he caught my ear.
The first time I heard him, it was a song about horses and deserts and such and since I was in a very singer/songwriter stage in my life, I immediately liked the song even though the words were very weird. “…in the desert you can remember your name..”
But it was the next hit song of theirs that really grabbed my attention. It went like this…”and now you’re gone, I guess I’ll carry on, and make the best of what you’ve left to me.” But wait, how did he know that he hit an emotional grand slam home run with a lonely teenager who’s girlfriend just broke up with him in, of all places, East Moline, Illinois? How did he know how I felt?
And thus became my love affair with Dan Peek’s music. I have been in Farmington almost two years and I had no idea he lived here. I don’t know what I would have done if I had known, I don’t think I would have walked up to his house and bothered him to say thanks, but just knowing some one who has affected my life so much lived in the same community just blew my mind.
It seemed that Dan wrote for the disenfranchised, the ones who weren’t the most popular kids in school and his message was always, don’t worry, it’ll all work out. I wonder how he knew that. Because, somehow through the years of this pot marked, scarred life, it did. Like all great composers and songwriters, he had a gift to get below the surface and make a listener feel that Dan knew them and what they were going through.
“This is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by. Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup and hide that highway in the sky.” There he goes again.
Dan has a place in the soundtrack of my life when music meant so much to me. His words and music reflect the feelings and emotions of a generation that grew up hanging on every word he and his band mates wrote. His spiritual, uplifting message cleverly hidden in the tapestry of his songs maybe, just maybe, saved a life or two by telling us, hey…”oz didn’t give anything to the tin man, that he didn’t already have.”
His music lives on through youtube and other outlets, but to my generation, we’ll remember him as a man who gave up the rock star life for his faith. We’ll remember him for being a part of our lives because in so many ways, whenever he was in our bedrooms with the headphones on and wherever we heard his music, we thought of him as a friend. And we heard his music a lot.
I got it, Dan, and thanks. It was my pleasure to stand in a room full of strangers and just say thanks. I introduced myself to your family as “just a fan”. I’m sorry I never got the chance to say that to you while you were alive. If I had only known.