“Everything happens for a reason.” Says Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, who is one third of the pioneering rap group Run DMC and one of the most influential rap artists of all time. At the age of 35, DMC made a startling discovery and suddenly, everything he thought he knew about himself had changed. He told his story on stage at a Moth Storytelling event which was aired on the radio and subsequently published as a podcast. Info on subscribing to the free podcast here.
DMC’s story caught my attention because it’s about purpose, destiny and the seemingly small things that can lead us to it’s discovery. Even something as simple as hearing a song on the radio. The archetypes of the Artist, Midas, Angel and Orphan feature prominently in this true story. I’ve noted them parenthetically.
Darryl had everything he wanted (Midas). An incredible career, top selling records, fame, money, respect, a healthy family, good upbringing – the whole thing and yet he was depressed (Artist). While on tour in Europe he began to have suicidal thoughts. He could sum up all of the things that were wonderful in his life but he couldn’t connect it all together, something was missing. He decided to put off thoughts of suicide until the tour was over. When he returned home, he got in the limo and heard a song on the radio called “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. As he listened to the song, something in him said “life is beautiful, it’s good to be alive”. (Angel)
For the next year, listening to Sarah McLachlan’s music was all that kept him going. His obsession with her music confounded his friends and colleagues. He is a rap star after all and what is he doing just sitting at home listening to some chick folk singer? His manager convinced him to leave the house to attend a music industry party. DMC wasn’t interested in going, but agreed to go for an hour. Even though he was surrounded by pop luminaries like Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keyes, DMC couldn’t care less (Orphan). He was counting the minutes until he could leave when Sarah McLachlan walked into the room. He finally had the opportunity to meet her and tell her how much her music meant to him. To hear him tell it, he came off like a bit of a lunatic praising her music and how it changed his life. She demurred and thanked him saying “That is what music is supposed to do”. (Much like an archetypal Angel would do.)
Three years go by and Darryl is still trying to figure out what he is missing. He decides to write an autobiography and calls his Mom to ask her about when he was born. His perspective completely pivots when his parents tell him that he was adopted. (Orphan)
“Now if you think there is really a time to commit suicide, finding out you’re adopted at age 35… but right then and there something happened. I remembered, when I asked myself ‘am I here to be DMC?’ and summed it up, that, was the missing piece, the void was filled. I really wanted to kill myself but then I remembered something, Sarah McLachlan said ‘that’s what music is supposed to do’. So I said ok before I get suicidal, depressed and do something real crazy, I need to write a record that’s going to help that little orphan or that little kid in foster care who thinks they threw me away, I’m worthless, I mean nothin…because I may be DMC but what I really represent is purpose and destiny. I need to make a record that will inspire somebody the way Sarah McLachlan inspired me.” ~ Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
What this revelation brought about was just that. In fact he contacted Sarah McLachlan and they recorded a hip hop mash up of Harry Chapin’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle” together and dedicated it to “every life and every soul touched by the reality and experience of adoption“. Just as Darryl was leaving the recording studio Sarah said “I’ve got to tell you something. I was adopted too, and I didn’t know that.” Everything happens for a reason.
In 2006 Darryl “DMC” McDaniels was presented with the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for his work with children in foster care promotion of adoption.
Click to watch the video of “Just Like Me” by DMC featuring Sarah McLachlan
Click to watch the video for Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”