I was going to apologize for choosing John Denver as the subject of this posting, mostly because a lot of “sophisticated” listeners sneer at his music. But then it occurred to me that (A) I was a little anxious about a couple of earlier posts too, wondering if the artist was going to meet with the approval of my readers, and that’s just wrong. One of the stated purposes of this blog is to show that geezers like all kinds of music, and on top of that, in a larger sense the whole singularity of blogging exists to allow everyone to speak to their own likes and dislikes. And (B) doggone it, I like most of his songs, and so do a lot of other people!
Besides, if he hadn’t been born an Air Force brat, which probably fueled his life-long love of flying and led to his premature death, he would by now have been a geezer right along with the rest of us. (Of course, you could say that about Elvis too…can you imagine him as a geezer?)
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. – who was born in New Mexico but changed his name to John Denver because of his love for that area (and because a name like his original one would have never fit on a marquee) – began performing in the early sixties and first hit success when he became a new member of the Chad Mitchell Trio, a veteran group but one that needed some life by that time. They had some success after he joined but later disbanded and he resurfaced as a solo act.
He gradually built a career that covered a lot of area. He was a singer and songwriter of…country music, folk music, pop music…take your choice, but however you label his music he was wildly popular and successful. He had huge record sales and successful concert tours, then expanded into TV appearances and was also kept busy as an actor in a number of films. At the same time he was deeply committed to many charitable causes, especially environmental issues.
As his life and career progressed his popularity eventually lessened (although he always had a solid fan base) and some personal problems surfaced, which just proved that he was as human as the rest of us. It seemed especially poignant that he split from his wife Annie, the inspiration for one of his best songs, but the song still stands on its own and we’re featuring it below.
As his performing slowed down, he found satisfaction in other areas, including his many selfless campaigns for worthy causes, but his lifelong love of flying eventually led to his tragic death in a crash of his experimental plane in 1997. He was 53.
Denver had countless hits, and they all have their fans – I’m particularly partial to some of his faster, thigh-slapping tunes (although I like to reserve my thigh for Mrs. Big Geez to slap) but I’ve chosen some slower songs to feature here.