We miss you, John Denver.
I do anyway. Being a John Denver fan was not cool when I was in high school in the 80s. I’m not sure I would have admitted to loving him in college either.
He was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr on New Year’s Eve, 1943. He was given his grandma’s guitar at age 11. The rest, as they say, is history. He has 35 albums and was on the top of the charts in the 70s.
The Country Boy was killed in a plane crash fifteen years ago today. By that time, I had pretty much figured out I was a geek and going to stay that way, so I might as well claim JD. By then, I think he was cool anyway. At least, in a retro sort of way.
I’m not alone in my feelings for him. In Aspen, people from all over the world are gathering now to celebrate his life during John Denver week . There is a tribute concert at the Wheeler Opera house in Aspen. They need two nights.
Aspen is also home to the John Denver Sanctuary. His lyrics are carved in beautiful stones there. A recent expansion includes a 4-acre stormwater filtration system and wetlands area that cleans stormwater running out of Aspen towards the Roaring Fork River.
I bet he would have liked that. He co-founded the Windstar Foundation to further environmental education and research. He supported the National Wildlife Federation, The Cousteau Society, and Human/Dolphin Foundation to name a few. He was also interested in bringing people together. He traveled to the USSR and China at a time when American artists didn’t perform there, doing a benefit concert for the victims of Chernobyl.
It was something more basic than ambassadorship that brought people together. It was the songs themselves.
Who doesn’t beller’ out Take Me Home Country Roads driving in your car alone? Or get a tear in your eye when you hear Sunshine? Don’t you hum Leaving on a Jet Plane on your way to the airport?
These kids do!
“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves we are the same.” – John Denver
So, tell it to me! What’s your favorite John Denver song? Why?