When I was a kid, my father had a serious man-crush on John Denver. Whenever my family was gathered around a campfire, which in my youth seemed like every other weekend, my father’s guitar repertoire consisted of two factions – every John Denver song known to man and the entire Peter, Paul, and Mommy album. “I’ve been swallowed by a Boa Constrictor. I’ve been swallowed…” During my mother's softer moments, he would always play Annie's Song for her (which I found painfully slow and boring as a child). I am nearly certain that at several points in my life, my family spread out a blanket on a cool patch of grass with a bucket of fried chicken and took in a John Denver concert or two.
I own almost every Peter, Paul, and Mary album. However, after leaving my parents’ house, I never thought again about John Denver except in reference to my father. I thought his music was corny and cheesey and pop-like. And then one day, I was driving in my car and a John Denver song came on the radio. I was bouncing up and down in my seat, and singing along so vigorously that I almost ran off the road.
This weekend, I cleared a lot of junk off my ipod, and amazingly, I had space for some new songs. What did I download? John Denver.
Now I thought for sure that I liked his songs, not for their musical quality, but for the memories they evoked. Yet, as I listened to them over and over again this weekend, I found myself thinking, “Oh, a fiddle! I love fiddle! Banjo! I love banjo! This music is…so good?”
And that’s when I had to face facts – being surrounded by the tunes of John Denver as a child has greatly influenced the type of music that I love today.
So, with that in mind, I officially renounce my former sneer of Johnny D, and stand here before you to say, I love the music of John Denver, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
For Christmas, I’ve thought about giving my Dad a trip with just to the two of us to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival next June. Think he could handle it?
P.S. to Butterflyfish - If you don't have the John Denver/Muppets Christmas album, you MUST go get it NOW. It's awesome. That and the PPM Holiday album were staples during my childhood Decembers.
Double P.S. - During my mother's pregnancy, and for the first year of my life, I was always referred to as Annie. My mother didn't give me that as my first name (it's my middle name) because my father had a grandmother named Anne, and after giving my brother a middle name from my father's side of the family, my mother's own mother would have blown a gasket. In fact, shortly after my birth my maternal grandmother had a chat with my three year old brother and told him that he should not call me Annie because it was not my real name. So persistent was my brother after learning this that my mother finally gave up calling me Annie. What's the point of this? Well, it might not be a coincidence that I was born in the spring of 1975 and Annie's Song hit number #1 in the late summer/early fall of 1974. Perhaps one day I'll get the guts to ask my parents about it - I might owe more to John Denver than I know. ;-)