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Music / John Denver

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"You fill up my senses,
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."
— "Annie's Song"

Henry John Deutschendorf Jr., better known as John Denver (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997), was an American singer and songwriter whose music was a mixture of country, folk, western and folk rock influences. He was also an actor and later in life (inspired by his love of nature) an advocate for the environment. Among other distinctions, Denver was the featured guest-star of more The Muppet Show productions than any other guest, with two TV specials on top of his regular series appearances.

One of the best-selling U.S. artists of the 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), amongst others, by confounding expectations during his testimony at the PRMC hearings in 1985. The committee obviously expected Denver to side with them, Denver being seen 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 as a drug promoting song.


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 on October 12, 1997. As usual, The Other Wiki has an extensive article covering his life and career.


Signature Songs:

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 aeroplanes. 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.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: His 1971 album is titled Poems, Prayers & Promises.
  • The Alcoholic: Denver had problems with alcohol in The '90s and was technically disqualified from flying when he died in a plane crash, though alcohol wasn't a factor in the accident.note 
  • 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 the Blue Ridge mountains and Shenandoah river being located in Virginia.
  • Berserk Button: Denver was so enraged by the breakdown of his first marriage he took a chainsaw to their marital bed and sawed it completely in half.
  • 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.
  • 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 "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 under its original title, the song is most famously known as "Leaving on a Jet Plane" as performed by Peter, Paul and Mary.
  • Lennon Specs: Part of his signature look.
  • Military Brat: Denver's father was a USAF pilot and he moved frequently in his 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.
  • 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:
    • Olivia Newton-John is the backing vocalist on "Fly Away".
    • Emmylou Harris guests on "Wild Montana Skies".
    • Denver himself is a special guest on "Perhaps Love", a duet with Opera singer Plácido Domingo.
  • Stage Name: His real 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.


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