Since his tragic accident, much has been written about John Denver, both complimentary and critical. I write this from an observer's perspective who has followed his life and career for 20 years. My first recollection of John Denver was as an 11-year-old boy whose sixth-grade teacher had the class learn the song "Rocky Mountain High."
Driven by that song, I rode my bicycle up the canyons of our majestic Wasatch Front to many of the lakes there. It was there that I began to understand the simple lyric "the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake." A young boy's affection and reverence for wilderness took root. Much of that is attributed to John Denver. Many times in my life when I felt a little lost, some John Denver song would express in lyric just how I felt. I've marveled how and why his songs touched or spoke to me as they did.This was the magic, the gift of John Denver. Even his toughest critics concede that he was among the best "message" artists of our time. John's music most always came from personal experience and usually addressed the greater potential in the human condition. Perhaps for this reason, his music meant more to people than just another song on the radio. I admired John not only for his music but how he used his music and celebrity to advance causes meaningful to him and philanthropic organizations too numerous to list.
I didn't anticipate how his death would impact me emotionally, but it has, and it speaks to how his music resonated with me and thousands of others. I'm very sorry that he died but I'm very, very glad that he lived. Thanks, John.