- Album name: John Denver’s Greatest Hits
- Artist name: John Denver
- Year: 1973
- Number of discs: one
- Label: RCA Records
- Collection: Selman
- Buy it on Amazon: $18.99
Level of familiarity before listening
I’ve never listened to this record or intentionally listened to John Denver at all, but I know him best from Take Me Home, Country Roads, which is a phenomenal song in its many versions. I also am aware that Leaving on a Jet Plane is a John Denver song, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard his version of it. And I’m familiar with the name of Rocky Mountain High, but can’t conjure up what it sounds like.
What I expected
According to my father, “John Denver is a very underrated guitarist.” So I expect some catchy folk rock songs and maybe some rock guitar.
What it was actually like
This was a very consistently solid folk rock record, and I liked it.
The only thing that bothered me was the orchestral backing on some of the songs, which I felt really detracted from the folk singer-songwriter quality of them, such as Starwood in Aspen and Sunshine on My Shoulders, which was far too slow, and the record’s worst song.
I did actually recognize Rocky Mountain High, and it was fine, but nothing special.
I enjoyed Denver’s Leaving on a Jet Plane, but I think the Peter, Paul and Mary version will remain canonical (for me).
Here’s an interesting fact about Take Me Home, Country Roads that I somehow did not know until today: apparently it was written about Clopper Road in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which is approximately a mile from where I grew up, and on which I have driven hundreds or thousands of times! I’m not sure how I never knew that.
But one thing I did know is that it lends itself very well to all kinds of covers, so here are a few standouts by: Reina del Cid, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Toots and the Maytals and Luca Stricagnoli.
I don’t think it has a very good ending, though. It was as if he couldn’t figure out how to end it, so just kept repeating the chorus. Maybe it needed another verse.
4/5: would listen again