Monday, March 16, 2009

John Denver

I caught a bit of two TV shows this weekend. The first was VH1's Greatest Hard Rock Songs. Whenever these kind of shows are on my husband can never get over how uncool I must have been in the 70's. I am unfamiliar with some of the top songs or which band recorded them. I've never been to a KISS concert or seen an Alice Cooper show. I truly regret missing some of it because now I not only like many of these songs, but I appreciate the absolute originality and musicality of some of the groups of the 70's. (If you must know - their top song was "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns and Roses - a group I did not appreciate when a poster of an unzipped Axl hung in my adolescent daughter's bedroom!)

The other show was a PBS special on John Denver. Now THAT's what I was doing in the '70's! The folk song thing suited me (and my guitar) just fine. I could play all of Denver's 3-chorded songs (D-A-G). I was a big fan , as well as a big fan of James Taylor, although James's music was a bit more complex.

I remember going to a John Denver concert at a now-long-gone humongous venue called The Coliseum and it was packed. He was actually quite a phenomenon; recording 30 albums with 14 going gold and 8 platinum. His songs conveyed mostly the beauty and goodness of the earth or the bittersweet aspects of loving someone. I loved a lyric like:

He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year.
Going home to a place he'd never been before.

I insisted on "Annie's Song" being sung at my (first) wedding even though my mother thought the lyrics - let me lay down beside you - were inappropriate for church.

John Denver seemed to have a childlike joy for life. He was a philanthropist and environmentalist and his music was loved all over the world. His concerts were like a camp sing-a-long - although he requested that the audience only sing during the chorus. His life wasn't all rosy - two failed marriages and a drinking problem. He died in a plane crash at age 53 in 1997. I was truly saddened, but I think he was a person that lived life to the fullest while he was here.

So I am not ashamed to be a John Denver fan. I still pull out my guitar, and the John Denver songs are the simple and lovely songs I still know by heart.


Anonymous said...

country road... take me home... to a place... where i belong! west virginia... mountain moma... take me home...

Poetikat said...

I still have my copy of "An Evening With John Denver" on vinyl and I love every song especially, "Rhymes and Reasons", "My Sweet Lady", "Matthew" - oh, they're all good! I also have a John Denver and the Muppets Christmas cd that I play every year. I think it's great you had Annie's song at your wedding.

I still get teary-eyed when I think about JD being gone.


Lena said...

All of that, and I loved the movie, "oh, God."

rosebuckle (Deborah Veres) said...

Gosh Diane, I think we were at the same concert! That was my first big concert. I was there with Todd Swann (my boyfriend), Dawn Frankos & Tom Tortorice. Way up in the nose bleed seats. Must have been 1975 or maybe fall of '74, I know I was a freshman at Kent.

Kim Carruthers said...

John Denver is probably one of my most favorite musical artists. I wish I had been around when he was touring, as I'm sure I would have attended his concerts. I someday dream to have Annie's Song played at my wedding! Another favorite moment is when he sings Edelweiss with Julie Andrews on her Christmas special! I will always be fond of his music.