Like a night in a forest,
Like the mountains in springtime,
Like a walk in the rain,
Like a storm in the desert,
Like a sleepy blue ocean,
You fill up my senses,
Come fill me again."
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 October 12, 1997), better known as John Denver, was an American singer-songwriter whose music was a mixture of pop, country, folk, western, and soft rock influences. He was also an occasional actor, and — later in life, inspired by his love of nature — an advocate for environmental and humanitarian issues. Among other distinctions, Denver was the featured guest-star of more Muppet productions than any other guest, with two prime-time TV specials (and accompanying soundtrack albums) on top of his appearance on The Muppet Show in 1979.
One of the best-selling U.S. artists of The '70s, Denver's success waned somewhat after the decade's end but he retained a solid fanbase. He also earned the respect of Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister), among others, by confounding expectations during his testimony at the PRMC hearings in 1985. The committee obviously expected Denver to side with them, viewing him as a non-rebellious "safe" artist with a very wholesome image and non-threatening persona and music. Denver, very politely but nevertheless forcefully, rebuked the committee's attempts to censor music, stood up for artistic freedom and pointed out that his own song, "Rocky Mountain High" (about his love of nature and the "high" he got from being outdoors in the stunning Rocky Mountains), had in fact been banned on certain radio stations for its supposed endorsement of drug use.
Denver's personal life was darker than his music; he was married and divorced twice, and came close to choking his first wife during their breakup but fortunately came to his senses before any harm was done. He also had issues with alcohol in The '90s, twice being arrested for driving under the influence. Denver continued to write, record and perform the music he loved until he died after crashing his plane in California's Monterey Bay on October 12, 1997.
- "Annie's Song"
- "Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
- "Take Me Home, Country Roads"
- "Rocky Mountain High"
- "Leaving on a Jet Plane"
- "Sunshine On My Shoulders"
- "The Eagle and the Hawk"
- "Rhymes and Reasons"
- "Follow Me"
- "Wild Montana Skies"
- "Sweet Surrender"
- "Poems, Prayers and Promises"
Studio Solo Discography:
- John Denver Singsnote (1966)
- Rhymes & Reasons (1969)
- Take Me to Tomorrow (1970)
- Whose Garden Was This (1970)
- Poems, Prayers & Promises (1971)
- Aerie (1971)
- Rocky Mountain High (1972)
- Farewell Andromeda (1973)
- Back Home Again (1974)
- Windsong (1975)
- Rocky Mountain Christmas (1975)
- Spirit (1976)
- I Want to Live (1977)
- John Denver (1979)
- A Christmas Together (with The Muppets) (1979)
- Autograph (1980)
- Some Days Are Diamonds (1981)
- Seasons of the Heart (1982)
- Rocky Mountain Holiday (with The Muppets) (1982)
- It's About Time (1983)
- Dreamland Express (1985)
- One World (1986)
- Higher Ground (1988)
- Stonehaven Sunrise (1989)
- Earth Songs (1990)
- The Flower That Shattered the Stone (1990)
- Christmas, Like a Lullaby (1990)
- Different Directions (1991)
- All Aboard!note (1997)
- Love Againnote (1997)
- Forever, Johnnote (1998)
"Take Me Home, Country Tropes":
- Ace Pilot: Denver was a skilled pilot who could fly both jets and piston-engined airplanes. His fatal crash was attributed to his unfamiliarity with the experimental plane he was flying, an inadequate fuel load and awkwardly placed fuel tank controls.
- His dad, Henry John Deutschendorf, Sr., was a pilot in the Air Force for a good many years. John had a good teacher.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: His 1971 album is titled Poems, Prayers & Promises.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)"
- Artistic License Geography: "Take Me Home, Country Roads" mentions the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River; both of these have a small presence in West Virginia's Jefferson County in the eastern panhandle, but don't appear elsewhere in West Virginia, with much of them being located in Virginia, proper.
- Christmas Songs: He released several Christmas albums, including one with the cast of The Muppet Show (in conjunction with a TV special of the same name).
- Cover Version: Recorded a bunch, especially songs by The Beatles.
- Dead Artists Are Better: He hosted the Grammy Awards six times, but didn't win one until All Aboard won Best Musical Album for Children after his death.
- Friend to All Children: From a very early agenote , John was very good with kids. This was especially evident when he started a family of his own, first with Zachary and Anna Kate (both of whom he adopted with Annie), and later with Jessie Belle (who was biologically his). Not surprisingly, in his social activism, he contributed a great deal to causes for children's welfare.
- Homesickness Hymn:
- While the song doesn't offer any specifics on where he is, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" is about a man who misses his home and family, and is driving to get there as fast as he can.
- The narrator of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" (initially titled "Babe, I Hate to Go") is homesick before he even leaves home: the song has him saying goodbye to his lover, promising that he'll return with her wedding ring. While Denver wrote the song and performed it first, the song became the hit that it is now thanks to Peter, Paul and Mary's rendition.
- Military Brat: Denver's father, Henry John Deutschendorf, Sr., was a USAF pilot and the family moved frequently during Denver's youth.
- Nature Lover: Denver loved the outdoors and nature and many of his songs were about the beauty of the wilderness.
- New Sound Album: 1971's Poems, Prayers and Promises debuted his familiar style: gentle acoustic pop with lyrics celebrating life and nature. It wasn't all that much of a departure from his first three albums, but they were in a contemporary folk style, and more musically and lyrically eclectic.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Oh, God!. Obviously, George Burns was the star, but Denver still got second billing and played the protagonist who becomes acquainted with the title character.
- Round Hippie Shades: Part of his signature look. Beginning in The '80s, he began to move away from this image.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: After one move too many, Denver stole his father's car and drove to California to join family friends. His father flew out to retrieve him.
- Special Guest:
- Stage Name: His birth name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. He changed it to John Denver (after the capital city of Colorado, where he lived for much of his life) after it was pointed out "Deutschendorf" would be hard to fit on a marquee.
- Write What You Know: You'd be surprised to learn how many of John's original songs owe their existence to this trope. Some key examples:
- "This Old Guitar" is about his very first guitar, which his grandma had given to him when he was a boy.
- "Love Again" was written after he met his second wife, Cassandra, following his divorce from Annie.
- "Seasons of the Heart" foreshadows the aforementioned separation; likewise, "Falling Out of Love" deals with the aftermath.