Way back in elementary school, I was introduced to John Denver's music by my sister, Linda. She often played music from the Poems, Prayers and Promises album. Of course, those were the days when we had record players.
I couldn't follow the words since I had a poor ability to discriminate words. I could pick out the refrain from Take Me Home, Country Roads and sing along with that.
Country roads, take me home
Take me home, country roads
One day, during music class in school, a teacher handed out the lyrics to several songs. Take Me Home, Country Roads was one of them. I was thrilled to see all of the words to the song in front of me. If I close my eyes today, I can still picture those typed words.
I was so excited about the lyrics that as soon as I arrived home, I put the record on and began to follow along with the song. I discovered that if I had the lyrics in front of me, I could follow along with each word perfectly. I began to hunger for more lyrics.
One day, when we were at Sears, I saw a music book with John Denver's music and lyrics. I begged my Mom to buy it for me. I spent the entire weekend playing his music over and over, following along to the lyrics. Soon, I had memorized the words to every song printed in the book. Once I had the lyrics memorized, I could lose myself in the music and truly enjoy it. Some of the songs on my albums had no corresponding lyrics in the book and I soon stopped listening to them.
During one trip down to Missouri, I listened to his music on the 8-track. (Yes, I know I'm dating myself frighteningly here!) My Aunt Gertie was along for the ride. Aunt Gertie was quite deaf and had very poor speech. I took her hand and put it over each word as the music blasted in the car. It was the first time anyone had ever shared a song with her and I remember her face filled with joy as she gamely tried to sing along. Aunt Gertie passed away from cancer a short time later.
As I grew older, the lyrics started to appear on some of John Denver's albums. He was a real pioneer about including lyrics when many other singers did not. It was easy for me to learn the words to new songs whenever he released a new album that included the lyrics.
John Denver ended up recording 365 songs and I've discovered the lyrics to them all on the World Family of John Denver website. I am learning new songs of his piece by piece.
I've also met some neat John Denver fans through this blog. Every now and then, I'll get an email or a comment left that says, "I love John Denver's music too!" Each year, hundreds of people gather at the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen, Colorado to listen to his music and remember a great singer.
I won't be able to attend this year, but I'm making it a goal of mine to attend next year. No other singer has captured my heart through music the same way.
Photo courtesy of PBS.org--permitted download.