Do you love the man, the myth, or the legend?

Santa gave me a record player a few years ago for Christmas.

Ever since, I go record shopping every now and then.  Towson, Hampden, Fells Point.  I’ve had friends and family members give me records for gifts….I’ve had a buddy ship me records from his in-laws from the west coast.

Records aren’t the point though.  Records were a catalyst in turning me on to an interesting perspective about the musicians we cherish and love.

I bought a John Denver’s Greatest Hits album for $.75.  Hey….he’s an American icon…and it’s only 75 cents….it’s worth it.  I got a lot more than 75 cents’ worth.

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane has become one of my favorite folksy songs.  It’s a musician-defining song…as not only did John Denver write and sing it, but Peter Paul and Mary made it arguably more popular (although not better).

As I listened to it more, the more I thought, “This isn’t that great of a song.  The guy screws his woman over and is trying to make up for it.”  To wit:

There’s so many times I let you down
So many times I played around.
I can tell you now, they don’t mean a thing. 

And he tries to make up for it immediately:

Every place I go I think of you
Every song I sing I sing for you
When I come back, I’ll bring your wedding ring.  

Aka.  I f—ed up and now I’m groveling. 

But people LOVE John Denver.  America LOVES him.  I can unequivocally say that I love John Denver.

Just like I love Bob Marley.  He who fathered at least 7 children while he was recording in London…away from his wife, Rita, and his family (and two kids at the time)…who were back in Jamaica, mon (Lord ‘a mercy).

It’s interesting that we give supremely talented artists a pass at being “bad” people because they are so damned good at what they do….and what they produce moves us to the extent that we are willing to overlook their faults.

The same can be said for athletes.

For the vast majority of them, we don’t love them for who they are.  We love them for what they produce.  What they deliver.  How they make us feel on game day….

It’s a fine line.  Do we want to emulate role models for every aspect of their character?  Or do we want to emulate the good and the inspiration that they conjur?

The answer lies within.  Do you want your kids to emulate everything about you?  Or do you want them to look up to the “teaching side,” or the “lessons learned side,” or the side that you’re portraying around them so that they know how to act when they grow up?

Much like the beloved John Denver and Bob Marley….we want our children to choose to see us for positive influences.  Peace-makers.  Activists.  Moral compasses.

The reality is…John was an alcoholic and Bob was a drug addict and adulterer.

But they weren’t short on inspiration.  And DAMN did they write some good music.


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