I Want To Be Like Him

Album: Death Valley (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • David Haerle grew up in Los Angeles and spent a lot of time in nature, as did the man who inspired this song. "'I Want To Be Like Him' is about Kelly Jackson, who was one badass dude," Haerle told Songfacts. "A true outdoorsman, we met in Boy Scout Troop 10. Ours was a serious backpacking troop. One of my earliest trips was hiking the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail, around 220 miles all in all. Kelly, who was just a few years older than me, was my hero growing up. He stood for something greater than himself. He respected nature and was willing to do what it took to protect it. I think we all saw him as a natural leader. He was calm under pressure and that made you feel safe with him. It also made you willing to go into battle with him. In the song, Kelly confronts a group of backpackers who had left their camp a 'big ole' mess.' Every one of us backed him up. Those fellows got it, apologized and turned back to clean it up.

    I wanted to be like Kelly Jackson. Still do. And that incident taught me there are moments when one has to stand up for things that are right, when risks need to be taken. He, along with my dad, were responsible for imbuing me with a love of the High Sierras in California and an appreciation for the great outdoors. It's good to have heroes. This song got me in touch with Kelly, who now lives in Colorado. Thank you Kelly for inspiring this song, and for inspiring me in my life."

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