Tuesday, July 9, 2013

40 Year Itch : Of Love in Boulder Canyon


  In the Summer of 1973, you could not escape the cheery mop top with the granny glasses. John Denver was everywhere. "Rocky Mountain High" had already peaked at #9 in the Billboard charts. Now his new album, Farewell Andromeda, was rising into the Top 20.

    He hosted a BBC variety show and guest hosted The Tonight Show. On a chairlift in Aspen, he had just written "Annie's Song", a future #1 song on the Easy Listening Charts. Swenson had just introduced a new ice cream flavor called "Rocky Mountain High".

And, with a backdrop of films showcasing the Rocky Mountains, Denver was about to perform a seven night engagement at the Universal Amphitheater. My dad and stepmother --who both knew Denver before he became a households name took me to a John Denver concert in 1973 and again in 1974.

After the latter concert Dad wrote Denver this letter:

Dear John:
 Your concert in New Haven was stupendous! My God, when you came on stage that first moment and the Coliseum roared...it must be an extraordinary sensation, rather frightening, rather pleasing, rather contemptible even. I mean how is it possible not to react with something approaching scorn at the animal that gets unleashed. There is that crowd aura, that same frenzied grip that politicians strive for, that Hitler achieved ( he, too, had at Nuremberg that astonishingly staged and managed show which created a crowd frenzy). I don't mean to compare you to Hitler, my friend, all I mean is you have achieved that same quality of having crowds react to you but that, unlike Hitler, of course you deserve it. 

 You gave the impression of being perfectly at ease, in control and professional all of which you are, but it came across. And I think your music--that is, the songs you write, are getting more and more beautiful and lyrical. I think "Sunshine on My Shoulder" (sic) is one of the loveliest songs I've heard in years. Very simple, very true like all good writing must be. And "Goodbye Again" is lovely too. Of course "Rocky Mountain High"--the title suddenly for the first time struck me as perfect for a high school in Denver. Wonderful idea, the little girl saying "I'm at Rocky Mountain High" and the other responding "I'll say..."--anyway , Rocky Mountain High is such a pleasing song and a nice thought.


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