Song Stories: Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a travelogue of longing.

For the past five years I have travelled to Santa Fe, New Mexico for an arts and faith retreat called The Glen Workshop. My life has been changed in so many ways by the event, the people who attend and the location. For the first time in the past six years, I won’t be going to Santa Fe this August. I find myself missing the landscape almost as much as the people. I did not expect this.

Santa Fe has impacted me so much that my first two EPs comprise a ‘Santa Fe series’ as they both draw titles from the lyrics of my song, Santa Fe.

I want to love you where the air is thin
I want to love you where the love comes easy.

Santa Fe sits 7000 feet above sea level. The air is literally thin - a lesson I learned the first time I went for a run down and up the hill to St.John’s College. It was my first and only run. Even the campus stairs leave you winded until you acclimate.

Mystics describe ‘thin places’–physical spaces where God seems to touch down in a profound way. New Mexico has become, for me, a thin place where the boundary between the physical and spiritual begins to rupture and let in sacred light and healing

Each of my visits to New Mexico lasts just a week and takes me on an emotional roller coaster that feels like summer camp. The week might last forever until I pass the midway point and realize it won’t. In fact, it’s almost over and now it’s the final day and I may never see these people again and how will I live your life back home without these training wheels? Soon I am on the plane and everything is a shrinking memory.

I tried to bake this journey into the lyrics and tone of Santa Fe. I hope you feel the joy of retreat and the inevitable pain of reentry. I wrote this song to remind myself that the very ephemerality of a holiday is what makes it special. You cannot live on holiday. The rough edges of life will find you. 

It’s hard to live where the air is thin
it’s hard to live where the love comes easy

Anyone who has been to Santa Fe may recognize a photo album of imagery in each verse. I wrote about real things I felt or saw or did.

4 am and I’m off to Santa Fe

The flights from Edmonton to New Mexico are awful, all day affairs. We leave before the sun comes up.

Bury my soles in the red earth if my flight don’t get delayed

I’ve experienced significant delays on 3 of my 5 trips to New Mexico. That first year, I almost did not make it.

On Canyon Road, where the beauty won’t shut up

Canyon Road is a mere mile of Old Santa Fe containing well over 100 art galleries. I’ve been told it’s the second largest art market in North America. The walk down Canyon Road always starts out endlessly inspiring but after a few hours I hit sensory overload. There most certainly can be too much of a good thing.

My legs and my heart are giving up

You can see many of these images in my own travel footage featured in my video for Santa Fe. Perhaps the most interesting part of this song is the way the video took off, months after releasing it. I never knew there was a Bon Jovi song of the same name until people mistakingly found my video while searching for it. I may not have earned those 28,000 Youtube views, but I’ll taken ‘em.

Since writing Santa Fe, I’ve had more experiences that equally belong in the lyrics. I mention the St. Francis Hotel, but when I wrote the lyrics I’d never had their smoked sage margarita. I don’t speak of the deep gash through the earth that is the Rio Grande Gorge. The otherworldly Earthship houses make no appearance. There is no mention of the Taos pueblo where indigenous peoples have lived in the same adobe homes for a thousand years. 

Perhaps a sequel is in order.

I’m living in Parkdale, and I guess that’s just as well
...
It’s no Chimayo, but would you bless this holy ground

Chimayo is a little church in the desert where people come for healing from around the world. There is a small well of miracle dirt. There are rooms with crutches hung on the walls. There is a chapel filled with baby shoes for sick children. There are hundreds of crosses and rosary beads hung by the hopeful. I finally made a pilgrimage there last summer. 

We all want to be touched by some power. We all want the love to come easy, and we look to a thin place like Santa Fe to get us there. But we live here, ‘in Parkdale’ and that’s likely as it should be.

I could sure use another visit though.


Buy Santa Fe here

Listen to Santa Fe on Apple Music or Spotify


Santa Fe

 

4 AM, and I’m off to Santa Fe

Bury my soles in the red earth if my flight don’t get delayed

and is it so wrong to be longing for escape?

 

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to live where the love comes easy

 

On Canyon Road, where the beauty won’t shut up

I start to wonder if there’s meaning in the word enough

Image upon image, my legs and my heart art giving up

 

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to live where the love comes easy

 

So gather up my heart, my soul, my strength, my mind

Down the mountain, let out my line

but let it down easy if you don’t mind

 

I’m living in Parkdale, and I guess it’s just as well

I can’t afford the rates they charge at the St.Francis Hotel

It’s no Chimayo, but would you bless this holy ground?

 

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to love you where the air is thin

I want to live where the love comes easy

Easy to love you where the air is thin

Easy to love you where the air is thin

So hard to live where the love comes easy

Dave Von Bieker

Dave Von Bieker, 11243 85 St NW, Edmonton, AB, T5B 3C6, Canada

Dave Von Bieker lives at the intersection of art, faith, hope and love. He has 2 great kids, a fantastic wife, and a mostly good dog. He plays red guitars and drives red cars.