“I was never trying to write a hit. I was just trying to write good songs and get a message out, and it was my great good fortune to be popular.”
Those are the words of Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., who wrote more than 200 songs and recorded more than 300 in his relatively short lifetime, becoming one of the world’s most popular folk/country/soft rock singers and performers. Among his hits were the song known as Colorado’s “unofficial” anthem, Rocky Mountain High, and West Virginia's "unofficial" anthem Country Roads.
Born on this day in 1943, John Denver, as he became known in his professional life, was a great storyteller with his songs, writing about his love for and activism on behalf of nature, and his enthusiasm for music. But he also wrote beautiful tales about people and relationships. Among them are the very moving Poems, Prayers and Promises, often sung at funerals, and the beautiful Annie’s Song, sung at countless weddings.
And who couldn’t love his raucous Thank God I’m A Country Boy – which I always thought spoke to any kid who was raised on a farm or ranch – and the happy-go-lucky Grandma’s Feather Bed. In his lifetime, which ended in a tragic plane crash in 1997, Denver’s songs sold a remarkable 33 million copies – and they continue to be re-recorded and listened to by new generations.
While he didn’t set pen to paper to write “hits,” he did write words and music that will live with us forever. Here’s a link to Thank God I’m A Country Boy:
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