"Music does bring people together; it allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same."
~John Denver, 1995
"Leaving on a Jet Plane" jump started John Denver's
career when Peter, Paul and Mary recorded the song he
wrote. His clean-cut looks and homespun ways propelled
him into one of the most popular and successful
recording artists of the 1970's. Not bad for a kid
named John Deutschendorf. He wisely changed it to a
more-simple moniker, choosing Denver because he
lived in and loved Colorado. Call me sappy, but I
adored him. I always felt as if he was sincere. He DID
care about the environment and world hunger. Playing
his recordings as I worked around the house, always
made me feel hope towards a better world. The words
of his songs reflect the sensibilities of a concerned citizen,
not just of his own country, but of all countries.
John said that Nature had always been his inspiration
and his best friend. And, as an inspiration to all of us,
he always seemed willing to put his heart - his time -
his effort - and his money into projects to save and
John was involved in many projects and causes. He was one of the founders of The Hunger Project, dedicated to trying to end chronic hunger in the world. He also founded a program encouraging the planting of indigenous trees for reforestation. He campaigned for dozens of new national parks and wildlife refuges, including the Alaska National Conservation Act. At the same time he encouraged people to think of the world as a global community - "Not you or me - but you and me." As an ambassador of peace he was one of the first people allowed into Russia and China. Denver put his songs to work in the best ways he could imagine - to protect the environment and nature - to try to end hunger - and to work towards world peace. These are lofty goals that can seem daunting, but he said,
" There are so many things that need to be done that sometimes it seems overwhelming. I try to remind everyone that no one person has to do it all, but if each one of us follows our heart and our own inclinations, we will find the small things that we can do. Together we will come up with enough to create a sustainable future and a healthy environment."
In the months prior to his death, John was filming an episode of the NATURE series for PBS that centers on his final journeys into the wilderness and contains his last song, composed while rafting along the Colorado River with his son and daughter. It is an intimate portrait of an extraordinary singer and songwriter doing what he loved best. You can almost hear that sweet tenor voice sing, TAKE ME HOME COUNTRY ROAD. The earth lost a good friend.