Today I chose to finally right a previous wrong, with the inclusion of “John Denver’s Greatest Hits”. This album was actually released in 1973, but there is no need to nitpick that fact. We could also possibly throw some darts at the fact that it leaves out “Annie’s Song” and “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”, both of which I love, but I chose this specific album as it was the John Denver album I wore out on my record player once upon a time. Being a Colorado native, there aren’t too many Colorado artists who have really hit the big time in popular music. Certainly some very talented artists like Judy Collins, Phillip Bailey from Earth, Wind and Fire, Firefall, The Fray, The Lumineers, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and more recently, OneRepublic and Nathaniel Rateliff, among others. That being said, even though he isn’t a Colorado native, no artist is more closely associated with Colorado than John Denver. A statue commemorates him at Red Rocks, and his frequent references to our state are well noted in his songs.
On this album we open with “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, which is an ode to the amazing mountains of… West Virginia. OK, we can share him. It is a great song, one of his best. Much of the album is pretty soft and mellow, which works just fine. Among my favorites are “Starwood in Aspen”, his cover of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving On a Jet Plane”, and “Sunshine on My Shoulders”, which is a beautiful and warm song that goes perfectly with the sunshine and yellow aspen leaves on the cover of the record.
The balance of this commentary is reserved for “Rocky Mountain High”. Now fully celebrated as the state song of Colorado, this song has served as my informal anthem of home since I left Colorado many years ago. I love the song, the lyrics, and the duel acoustic guitars that drive the melody, and it has left me emotional on many an occasion. I remember one winter evening, when I was briefly back in Colorado visiting, and this song came on at the same time as an amazing Colorado sunset over the Rocky Mountains. I said, “Don’t ever forget this moment”… and I haven’t. I hope anyone else who has seen the same feels the same way.
“Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky”