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Monday, April 10, 2006

Denver on Nature & Life

Recently I've listened to some John Denver songs, which I've heard many times before, but not for a long time. Of course, Denver's love of Nature was well known. For someone who has been exploring ancient conceptions of the 'divine' and profound in Nature, before later notions of duality, separation, and "supernaturalism" came along, Denver's songs take on new meaning than they did when I heard them years ago. Some favorite passages include:

"You fill up my senses like a night in the forest, like the mountains in spring time, like a walk in the rain, like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean..."[1]

The power of the music in this passage invigorate the lyrics and give the listener a sense of the power and majesty Denver experiences in Nature. In the next line, one gets the sense of the profound beauty inherent in the fact that life on this planet is ancient.

"Almost heaven, West Virginia... Life is old there; older than the trees, younger than the mountains blowing like a breeze."[2]

Through a character that is 'born again' upon visiting the country, Denver says of the sky,

"I've seen it raining fire in the sky. The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby."[3]

But for Denver, it seems Nature doesn't stop with the country. His zeal for Nature is one with, and inseperable from, his experiences of life and love; in things as simple as the sting of moonshine and sounds on his radio. He expresses humanistic values when he uplifts the unique treasure that others might disregard as a drunkard in a prison cell in his rendition of Mr. Bojangles. To his wife he asks,

"Come let me love you. Let me give my life to you. Let me drown in your laughter. Let me die in your arms..."[1]

John Denver said, "The purpose in my music has always been to communicate the joy that I find in living." To those of us who find Nature quite "super" enough as is, John Denver's music serves as hymn.

[1] Annie's Song
[2] Take Me Home, Country Roads
[3] Rocky Mountain High


  1. I've often wondered why some people find it 'dorky' to like John Denver's music. I always did. He was a big supporter of the Sierra Club, too. We're not hearing too much from the naturalists these days, are we?

    (Yes, I started up again. Please--don't ask. ;) You can update my info in your 'links' and delete the other Flashcat/Tangy Apple stuff... if you want. I think I'm here to stay with this blog. :))

  2. Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was actually penned by John Denver. What a great tune. I'm not sure if he ever recorded the song himself. Ironically, Denver died in a plane accident.

  3. Hey Flashcat - glad you're back :)

    I think Denver has no inclination to be cool or hip in any way - just a straightforward honest approach to creating beautiful music, so that's why he would have taken on the 'dorky' thing for some. To really appreciate him, I think one has to be completely free of the social parameters, expectations, and delusions of adolescent enslavement. :)

    John, that's true! I actually have a recording of Denver singing that song, and prefer it to PP&Ms.

  4. A real COOL Jonh Denver internet music broadcast is loccated at
    It will be re-broadcast on Thursday and Friday thru Nov. This broadcast is called "Family Entertainment Radio" and plays many of the artists not heard on radio.
    Check out for the coolest music and John Denver is a regular featured artist on this program. Enjoy!

  5. Thanks for the info superjukebox :)