High up above the crowd
The Great Valerio is walking
The rope seems hung from cloud to cloud
Time stands still while he is walking
His eyes steady on the target
His foot is sure upon the ropes
Alone, peaceful as a mountain
And certain as the mountain slope

We falter at the sight
We stumble in the mire
Fools who think they see the light
Prepare to balance on the wire
And we learn to watch together
We feed on what we see above
Until our hearts turn like the seasons
And we are acrobats of love

How we wonder
How we wonder
Watching far below
We would all be that great hero
The Great Valerio

Come all you upstart jugglers
Are you really ready yet?
And who will help the tightrope walker
As he tumbles to the net
So come with me to see Valerio
As he dances through the air
And I'm your friend until you use me
And let's be sure I won't be there

How we wonder
How we wonder
Watching far below
We would all be that great hero
The Great Valerio


Lyrics submitted by planetearth

The Great Valerio song meanings
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    General CommentLike so many Thompson songs, this one has multiple levels of interpretation.

    Historically, it would be about the famous 19th century tightrope walker, Blondin, who repeatedly walked across a rope from the states to Canada . . . Thompson confirmed this in a pdf book with the same title you can find a link to on his Wikipedia page

    After that, it's a lot more open to guessing, but here's my (current) verse by verse:

    1 - A picture of the ideal enlightened psyche, the "great hero" inside, who cannot make a poor decision and is able to look directly at the suffering and emptiness of life without losing any composure, already in the ideal heaven/nirvana he is travelling towards. What we all wish our lives could be. Superman. See Nietzche, thus spake Zarathustra: "Man is a tightrope between superman and the abyss". And, yes, the path to enlightenment is perilous for all but the master to tread, Valerio being the master.

    2- Us, afraid to tread the path or else "fools", who believe they know the way to perfection but run the very real risk of falling from the state of perfect grace they extol, whether they actually see the light or not. The rest of us seek a semblance of grace by following an ideal to the best of our ability, without actually balancing on a cross or a wire or a master's path . . . usually through human love, as our "hearts turn like the seasons". Yet, it is beautiful even to seek, and those who "learn to watch" become "acrobats of love".

    Chorus- As above. Valerio as (nearly?) unreachable human ideal.

    3- Beware, fools! Do not proclaim your answer so quickly, or trust in your own infallibility, for Valerio you are not. None can save you when you fail, except perhaps the "net" which may or may not be divine grace. Yet those perfect beings (Jesus, Buddha, etc.) are there for a reason, beautiful to contemplate . . .
    an invitation to all humanity.

    The last two lines are the tricky part -
    "I'm your friend until you use me
    and then be sure I won't be there"
    My guess is the speaker switches to God/Valerio,
    who wants humanity to rely on themselves and will not intervene to save us from our own mistakes just because we say a few prayers. A warning to pious fools.

    This song was before Richard's conversion to Sufism.
    astralmuckon January 19, 2017   Link

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