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Stories from the Road: The Desert

Stories from the Road: The Desert

Dango Rose • June 13, 2017 • Lifestyle • 

The show ends with an acoustic version of “This Land is Your Land” led by our good friend and opening act on this tour, Steve Poltz. His infectious punk troubadour attitude has the entire audience singing in three-part harmony with arms wrapped around each other. The spirit of Woody Guthrie lives on and I am grateful to be a small part of it. It feels good to be back inside a small club after a full weekend of festivals that ranged from EDM, to Folk, to Pop Rock. We finally have a moment to breathe so we take it. We have booked up 85 percent of a roadside motel with spunk and style in Twentynine Palms, California. Coincidentally, it is the same motel U2 stayed at thirty years before, during the making of The Joshua Tree.

Dango Rose with two of his bandmates, Daniel Rodriguez and Bonnie Paine

After 17 years of touring, I have come to realize that there’s much more to “life on the road” than is commonly known. How to stay healthy is one thing, yet how to engage in this unconventional lifestyle as a path to awakening is what drives me. If it weren’t justifiable in some sense, I wouldn’t be here still. I’ve come to learn why so many of our musical heroes age so quickly and die so young.  It’s easy to form addictions. It’s easy for insecurities and anxieties to run the show.  My focus now is to make the unconventional more conventional by developing routines that increase balance. Some may simply refer to this as growing older. I see it as a way of intentionally finding my way back home.

It’s important that I recognize the afflictions that bind me. There are times for self-study, but to do so in the midst of a whirlwind tour can prove challenging and have unforeseen effects. So much constant output is given, and there are stimuli nearly 24 hours a day. We give so much, yet I often forget to open my heart in order to authentically receive. I have the tendency to forgo self-compassion, as I get hooked into my thoughts and my storylines — the spin cycle of my mind.

Less than a year ago the tour bus caught fire with three of us on board and asleep. Since then, remembering how to sleep en transit has been a challenge. On some nights my bunk becomes my jail cell, one in which I all too often forget that I hold the key. When I finally recognize how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone, I take a few deep breaths to reconnect, and for just a few seconds I am the witness again, seeing myself see.

Dango Rose
Photo by Lisa Siciliano

What will it take to truly become the seer, seeing myself, see myself see?

I remember now that all emotional states are valid expressions of the human condition.

Yet, our collective experience is ultimately defined by our openness and ability to give and receive love. This is why my aim is to utilize negative emotional states as fodder in building empathy and compassion for others, who too find themselves, from time to time, stuck in the muck and mire of our shared human experience. Through this process, of giving and receiving, it makes the moments of being in love, or loving — more vivid and real.  Then, to offer this positive state, for the benefit of all sentient beings, I believe creates a lemniscate (infinity symbol), and thus completes a full cycle in the practice of tonglen.

My aim is to engage in this practice while performing.

I oftentimes forget, yet it only takes a brief moment to remember to begin again.


Dango Rose embraces a passion for music as a spiritual path.  Born with a warrior’s heart, his journey has been one of healing and transformation.  Rose is a founding member of Elephant Revival.  He is also a songwriter, producer, musical director and yoga instructor based in the mountains outside of Boulder, CO.


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