Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Following John Denver's Music--A Trip Down Memory Lane

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
garbled words
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.


groovyoldlady said...

As one who takes a keen interest in what my children listen to I can assure you that it is not only those who are hearing impaired who need lyric sheets in order to decipher what "artists" are singing!


And John Denver? He's not high on my list now, but I went through a definite JD phase - I even sang a couple of his songs in a bar when I was 16. I sang and "Tiny" (who weighed about 360 lbs) accompanied me...

...on the accordian!

Glenda Watson Hyatt said...

I also love John Denver's music. Mom would play a stack of his records while doing housework on Saturdays. "Sweet Surrender" spoke to me, and that is the one I rode to, when I won my gold medal.

LaRonda said...

I have his Anthology - a complete book of all the lyrics to his songs, for the same reason as you. When i was hearing, his music was some of my favorites. After becoming deaf, his music was what I missed the most. He was just one of my all time favorite people. Got to see him in concert once after I became deaf. Will never forget it! I would love to go see his memorial in Aspen.

~ LaRonda

Karen said...

Hey Groovy, are you going to post a video of you singing?? :)

Karen said...

Glenda, I always do housework with JD blasting through the house. :)

Karen said...

LaRonda, wouldn't it be fun to plan a trip together?

Dawn Colclasure said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVE John Denver!! I heard his music before I became deaf -- something I considered to be a blessing. My older sister played his music ALL the time. His songs are beautiful and I've had them on my mind a lot lately. Especially Country Roads (my favorite). I was the same way with music after I lost my hearing and could wear a hearing aid. The lyrics REALLY helped me to "sing along" with songs and get to know them. You read this in my essay, I think. Good blog post, Karen. How funny his music has been on my mind lately and you blog about him. The world lost a great musician!

Laurie said...

Oh, I love John Denver, too! I want to put all of his music on my iPod! Thanks for the link to the website for all the words to his songs!