Music was one of the greatest spiritual components of the Biodesign Class. Voltaire suggested; “Music is a pathway to the heart” and after living with the Native people of New Guinea, Alfred Wallace concluded that music was a part of their soul.
Whether I had a collective subconscious relationship with John Denver (or not) will remain a mystery. What is not a mystery, however, is that his song “Country Roads” became a huge hit shortly before the Biodesign Class was born. He died in a tragic plane crash, two days before my birthday and four months after Biodesign was terminated. My wife shared his birthday.
More importantly, Country Roads became a theme song for the Biodesign Class. It was clearly the favorite song to be sung around the evening campfires. The combination of the catchy melody and nostalgic lyrics; “Take me home, country roads, to the place, I belong…” never failed to move or transcend curious young minds.
For the first half of US history, 95% of the people lived on country farms and in rural areas, while 5% of the population lived in urban areas. Over the last half of our history the number has flipped; 95% of the people live in urbanized areas and 5% live in rural areas. The migration into urban areas has had its advantages, however, conversely, there have been many losses.
I doubt that very few people would describe New York City, Boston or Chicago as, “almost heaven.” The noise, pollution, crime—grime and gaudiness are more often antithetic to the natural peace and tranquility that is common in country living.
Following Henry Thoreau, the BIodesisgn students “went to the woods to live deliberately” and hopefully discover what John Muir meant; “In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world—the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off and the wounds heal ere we are aware.”
Each time we sang “Country Roads” around a campfire I could see the “the galling harness of civilization” dropping off of the students as their spirits rose with Yosemite mountains, soared over Grand Canyon or joyfully surfed the waves onto Mendocino Beaches.
Mike Sutton’s creative video-medley reveals that no other genre of music has drawn together such a diverse and talented group of musicians who triumphantly express their zest for life through music. It is as if “Country Roads” has brought them all together for a huge, glorious Thanksgiving celebration.