Walt Grace and The Power of a Dream–DeMarco Banter

tumblr_m9arp52D9w1qbs9czo1_500A while ago, while at Catalyst East in Atlanta, Jon Acuff mentioned John Mayer’s song “Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, January 1967” in reference to dreams, the power of vision, and tenacity.  Of course, I don’t recall Mr Acuff’s exact words–but that’s what I walked away with.

tumblr_m41ugiHkcN1r5nh1jo1_1280So a few months later… I Googled the song…and wow!  I had no idea there were so many pondering the song and it’s meaning.  Did Walt make it?  Is he dead? Did he have cancer? And of course John Mayer is pretty quiet on the whole matter… smart for an artist…as isn’t the art in the eye of the beholder?

What does the song mean?  To me–we have to dream and dream big.  It’s about the desire to do something, the search for purpose, and the trials that follow when we commit to our dream, and say…I have to do this, and I don’t care if it sounds crazy… a God given vision is a quest that must be followed

“Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness.” 
Thomas Carlyle

1337730407-tumblr_m3aujiOuWn1r0l3awo1_1280-553x353We all find ourselves in times where we “hate this whole place,” and we bury ourselves in our offices, or basements, our garages–but what are we doing when we get to those places?  In that solitude, in the quiet…are we creating? Or are we just complaining?  Anyone ever work, play or think so hard–that you find “your tongue on the side of your face?”  You are “working on displacement and what it takes to survive”… I watch my 7 year old do this all the time while enjoying a good video game…

125oqgyAs a leader…”when you’re done with this world…you know the next is up to you.”  What are you going to do about it?  Walt’s wife told him he was crazy as he pushed the bounds of the status quo…his friends said he would fail if he tried, but with the power of a dream, with a vision…it doesn’t matter.  In 1967, you needed a library card–today, study, learn, use the internet and tackle the future.

The sea will be mean, don’t expect applause–that’s not the way this works. The waves will be big and many times we paddle off alone…but as we go…we may find that for once in your life it will be quiet and that is when the ideas come…that is where the muse is.

tumblr_m6aws8abl31r6l996o4_1280Maybe–you will make the call from Tokyo and your friends will bring you up when they are drinking and remember…You…Who took a homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

We all need to get busy on own homemade, fan-blade, one-man submarine ride.  Follow your dreams…what else is there?

Side note:  Now there was a Walt Grace (Second Electrician/USS Santa Mariana), USCG, on or about 29 January 1966–who wrongfully destroyed a dinner plate, used foul language to two stewards and created a disturbance… not sure it is the same guy…


Walt Grace, desperately hating this whole place
Dreamed to discover a new space and buried himself alive
Inside his basement
Tongue on the side of his face meant
He’s working away on displacement
And what it would take to survive
Cause when you’re done with this world
You know the next is up to you

And his wife told his kids he was crazy
And his friends said he’d fail if he tried
But with the will to work hard and a library card
He took a homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

That morning the sea was mad and I mean it
Waves as big as he’d seen it deep in his dreams at home
From dry land, he rolled it over to wet sand
Closed the hatch up with one hand
And pedaled off alone
Cause when you’re done with this world
You know the next is up to you

And for once in his life, it was quiet
As he learned how to turn in the tide
And the sky was aflare when he came up for air
In his homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

One evening, when weeks had passed since his leaving
The call she planned on receiving finally made it home
She accepted the news she never expected
The operator connected the call from Tokyo
Cause when you’re done with this world
You know the next is up to you

Now his friends bring him up when they’re drinking
At the bar with his name on the side
And they smile when they kid, as they speak of the man
Who took a homemade, fan blade, one-man submarine ride

3 Replies to “Walt Grace and The Power of a Dream–DeMarco Banter”

  1. I love this song… I think your interpretation is interesting. The part about solitude and being in the basement and creating or complaining ” working away on displacement and what it would take to survive” i think your interpretation is reactive of the character which is cool… i never really saw it that way… because where it’s completely valid, I don’t get that from the character of WG. I feel like he’s very proactive. “Working away on displacement and what it would take to servive” meant the acceptance of responsibility in the form of due diligence and what’s more, getting lost in he flow of learning. I’m a guitarist, and I think that’s what we do with transcriptions and great music… we get lost in the process of accepting a challenge and kind of find yourself in that at the same time.. the song totally follows the Joseph Campbell paradigm. But either way… thanks for your interpretation and putting it out there. I just felt differ about that part and thought I tell you so. Best wishes. Feel free to email me back if you like:

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