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June 26, 2004

Standards of Self Image

Part I:

I have a certain quality in my voice which I refer to as "Kermit". That name was chosen because Kermit the Frog has the same quality in his voice, except with him it is exaggerated into a comic stereotype.

John Denver also has that quality in his voice.

Recently, I've been taking some beginning guitar lessons and the first real song that they've given us to play is John Denver's Leaving on a Jet Plane. In order to get that tune into my head so that I can better understand how to play it, I've been listening to that song as performed by John Denver on a "best of" John Denver compilation CD.

The first thing that I've noticed about this song is the way that John Denver sings it. My emotional response to how he sings it was immediately: This sucks! His vocals seem to me to be just plain bad.

Now I've recently been told by someone, who was around at that time and should remember, that Leaving on a Jet Plane is the song that gave John Denver his initial burst of popularity. It would be his "one hit wonder" song, except that he had about a thousand hits afterwards.

And this got me thinking.

If it were me and I sounded like he did singing that song, I'd not have let anyone hear me sing! Yet, John Denver, comfortable in his own skin - or at least comfortable behind that voice - came right out with it, recorded it, and became a hit as a result of it, eventually having literally millions of fans worldwide.

Part II:

Yesterday, while driving home through a residential neighborhood, I saw a fellow standing out on his front sidewalk watering some flowers. The fellow was about 5 foot and 10 inches tall, he was wearing a pair of shorts and some flip flops, and had no shirt on. His legs were spindly right up past his glutes and to his waist where, suddenly, his skinny appearance ballooned into a gigantic beer bellied disgusting (I'd estimate) 240 pound pig. This guy standing out in front of his yard topless was an affront to all of nature, mankind, and to any god you might happen to believe in.

Yet this man, disgusting in his appearance, a virtual tribute to the shape of drigibles and blimps worldwide, was comfortable enough to walk out in front of the public and display himself in all of his glory, untroubled by the judgments of others. (I mean, fergodsakes, he didn't even feel the need to put a shirt on to protect unspecting women and children!)

Part III:

My question is, then, how does one resolve such things? It'd sure be nice to be able to see one's self not only subjectively, but objectively, or at the very least inter-subjectively. There are probably all sorts of ways in which we hold ourselves back from social successes (i.e., such as making millions playing guitar and singing, as did John Denver) by holding ourselves to higher standards than what other people in general might even consider great. Then again, too many of us are too comfortable with disgustingly low standards.

More thoughts to come along the lines of Johari's Window....

Posted by Jeff at June 26, 2004 03:58 PM


i compltely and uterly agree with that. and i too have wondered how one can over come thing like a streak lined, beer full stomach. most people u see will try to fake popularity or wear a nice shirt and pants, just to hide their embarassing sides.

being self content with ur unnatural, or disgusting sides is a very rare and important and special quality

Posted by: zonedout at November 16, 2005 06:41 PM

Denver's voice improved markedly over his 30 yr career.If you listen to his voice from the early 80s onwards,after his encounter with Placido Domingo,his vocal technique is a million times better than what he started out with.So much so fans & critics have commented substantially on it.As for self image,Denver struggled greatly with self-esteem & battled depression,especially after his career faltered after the seventies.Denver actually stated many time he thought he wasn't that great a singer or songwriter,but he thought he was a good communicator.I actually thought he was vastly underrated(by himself & the critics) on all 3 counts.He frequently said,"Noone's gonna miss me",which is sad,as obviously more than a few poeple did.So self-image problems plague even the very successful,it seems.

Posted by: Emily at October 17, 2006 02:22 PM

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