About the song

John Denver’s The Wandering Soul. Now that’s a song that deserves a deep dive. Denver, of course, was a titan of folk music in the latter half of the 20th century. His booming baritone, his folksy charm, and his odes to nature and simple living made him a household name. But The Wandering Soul is a bit of a hidden gem in his vast catalog.

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Unlike the bouncy optimism of “Take Me Home, Country Roads” or the environmental anthems like “Rocky Mountain High,” The Wandering Soul delves into a more introspective and philosophical space. It wasn’t officially released during Denver’s lifetime, existing primarily in recordings from the early 1990s, particularly at the Windstar Symposiums – these were events that focused on environmental and social issues, a cause Denver was deeply passionate about.

The song itself is a beautiful tapestry of piano and gentle guitar, a stark contrast to the often-upbeat instrumentation Denver was known for. This allows his voice to take center stage, delivering lyrics that explore the human condition with a quiet intensity. The Wandering Soul speaks to the restlessness that can reside within us all, a yearning for something more, a questioning of where we belong in this vast world.

It’s important to note that the song also offers a glimmer of hope. Denver sings about the “promise in the journals of the mind,” the potential for finding miracles and remembering the “seed within, a bright and shining star.” Love is presented as the spark that can ignite this inner flame, a powerful message that resonates throughout Denver’s work.

The Wandering Soul stands as a fascinating departure from Denver’s usual style. It’s a song that reflects a deeper layer of the artist, one that grapples with existential questions while still clinging to the possibility of joy and connection. It’s a song for those quiet moments of introspection, a reminder that the journey of self-discovery is a universal human experience.

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So, as you listen to The Wandering Soul, let yourself be drawn into the introspective world Denver creates. Consider the questions it raises about our place in the universe, the yearning for purpose, and the potential for love to illuminate the path forward. It’s a song that lingers long after the last note fades, a testament to the enduring power of John Denver’s music.

Video

Lyrics

In this magic hour of softening light
The moments in between the day and the night
The instant when all shadows disappear
The distance in between the love and the fear

There’s a longing deep within the wandering soul
It’s like the half that understands it once was whole
Like the two who only dream of being one
Like the moon whose only light is in the sun

There’s a danger in forever looking outside
You start to believe that all your prayers have been denied
And you forget the sound of your own name
And thus begins the suffering and the pain

I wanted an answer, I wanted a way
I wanted to know just what to do and what to say
I wanted a reason, I want(ed) to know why
Can there never be heaven right here on Earth and peace inside

Inside my heart
Deep in my soul
Within each part
And in the whole

There’s a promise in the journeys of the mind
You begin to believe that there are miracles you will find
And that someday you’ll remember who you are
The seed within a bright and shining star

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That’s like the flame that lives within a hungering heart
That only awaits a gift of love for it to spark
Into a fire that burns forever, endlessly
Like the river that can’t help but meet the sea

In this magic hour between the dark and the dawn
In the space between the silence and the song
Suddenly the mystery is clear
That love is only letting go of fear

Love is the answer and love is the way
Love is in knowing just what to do and what to say
And love is the reason, love is the why
And love is in heaven right here on Earth and peace inside

Inside your heart
Deep in your soul
Within each part
And in the whole

Love is the answer and love is the way
Love is in knowing just what to do and what to say
Love is the reason, love is the why
And love is in heaven right here on Earth and peace inside