Major Influences Part 2 – John Denver

My Dad was, and still is, a big country music fan. My very early introduction to music consisted of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Don Williams, Emilou Harris, Dolly Parton but above all of these was John Denver. His songs were the soundtrack of my childhood, and of all of the country music I heard in those early days it’s really only John’s that has stayed with me. You only have to listen to the opening bars and the groove of Song of Awen to realise what an influence on my music he has been.

John Denver was a true country boy. Living in the mountains his inspiration came from the sights and sounds that surrounded him. Nature really is the best artist, and his lyrics and melodies manage to capture that essence of wildness that so many modern Pagans seek as part of their spiritual path. Add to that his voice, one of the purest voices in music with a natural vibrato and quality that I don’t think any other singer has matched since, and you have a near perfect singer/songwriter for a budding Bard. John Denver’s songs convey a connection with the Natural World that speaks directly to the heart. I regularly, even now, find tears of joy streaming down my face when I’m listening to his songs. I find myself nodding my head saying, “Yes! Yes! That’s it! You’ve got it, you understand!” Here are some examples of what I mean –

The Eagle and the Hawk

I am the eagle, I live in high country
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers
But time is still turning they soon will be dry
And all of those who see me, all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly

Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are

Rocky Mountain High

Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams
Seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky mountain high

Sunshine on my Shoulders

sunshine, on my shoulders – makes me happy
sunshine, in my eyes – can make me cry
sunshine, on the water – looks so lovely
sunshine, almost always – makes me high

if i had a day that i could give you
i’d give to you a day just like today
if i had a song that i could sing for you
i’d sing a song to make you feel this way

if i had a tale that i could tell you
i’d tell a tale sure to make you smile
if i had a wish that i could wish for you
i’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

He started the Winstar Foundation, a charity that promoted sustainable living, back in 1976, and was a keen environmental activist. His song Annie’s Song is still one of the most romantic, beautiful love songs ever written. Who knows what other great songs lay in wait from the Awen of John Denver, but sadly we will never know as on 12th October 1997 he got into his experimental light aircraft which crashed, taking his life and with it, his genius. Forever missed, his music will always live on in the hearts of those who believe that ‘they would have been a poorer man if they never saw an eagle fly.’

Blessed be John Denver.

13 responses to “Major Influences Part 2 – John Denver”

  1. ohh i was brought up listening to john and i still have all of my dads albums plus my own versions on cd.

    his lyrics are amazingly in tune with nature and Mother Natures son is one of my all time favorites 🙂

    thanks for posting this 🙂

  2. I live in those Rocky Mountains. It’s no small wonder John Denver lived to be such an incredible artist-they’re brimming with the Lady’s beauty and the Lord’s wildness. You should most certainly visit them sometime. *nod* 😀

  3. I love John Denver, and I can fully appreciate the inspiration he brings to you. I was born in Colorado, and every time I hear ‘Rocky Mountain High’, it makes me homesick. Bad moods can be instantly banished with ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’. 🙂 He truly was a songcrafter.

  4. I, too, love John Denver and have ever since I was a young girl. It’s kind of a little secret I keep here in my New England town. 😉

  5. I’m coming back to John Denvers music lately after too long away. I remember saving my pocket money to buy the single of Annie’s Song and later learning to play and sing it in my teens. Although ny family were not really into country music we did have a few of his albums in the house and listening to them was a joy.

  6. I always liked the man and remeber the shocked staff at the record shop (remember them?) when i bought one of his albums along with some motorhead.
    My favourite is ‘windsong’, i find myself singing that one when i’m riding my trike (and getting funny loks from car drivers. Ad

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more about JD. He is undoubtedly the artist most influential for me. I even moved to Colorado at age 18 as a result of the love for the high country he inspired in me. My wife and I were married in Colorado and spent our first year as high in the Rocky Mountains as we could get (and still be able to work). I often find myself singing or humming his songs. Its interesting which song lyrics you put first. That has always been my favorite of his. I will often sing it as I drive through the mountains of North Georgia, where I now live, and find tears running down my cheeks.

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