Our Top 10 John Denver Songs list takes a look at one of music’s most successful singers, songwriters, actors, activists and humanitarians. He was one of the best-selling artists of the 70s. Denver was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 70s. He has recorded and released 300 songs. He wrote about 200 of the songs he released. Denver released 33 albums throughout his career. Denver had singles that were certified gold and platinum. His hits include “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High.” He has sold more than 33 million albums. His songs were mostly about nature, city life, his love of music and relationships. He had crossover appeal because his songs were featured on multiple Billboard charts. In addition to his music, John Denver was bit by the acting bug. He appeared in movies and TV specials. It’s time to take a closer look at John Denver’s career.
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997. Denver performed in local clubs while he was attending college. He changed his last name to Denver after the capital of his favorite state. In 1965, Denver was a member of the Mitchell Trio. He pursued his solo career in 1969. Denver released his first studio album Rhymes & Reasons in 1969. It features the singles “Daydream,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “The Love of the Common People,” “The Ballad of Spiro Agnew” and “When I’m Sixty-Four.”
Take Me to Tomorrow was released in 1970. It features the singles “Take Me to Tomorrow,” “Forrest Lawn,” “Amsterdam” and “Carolina in My Mind.” It was a modest hit for the singer. Who’s Garden Was This was also released in 1970. The album was basically a cover album. It features the singles “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “Golden Slumbers.”
Denver would gain much greater success with his next studio album. Poems, Prayers & Promises was released in 1971. The album peaked at number 15 on the Billboard 200 charts. The album features the singles “Poems, Prayers & Promises,” “My Sweet Lady,” “Sunshine on my Shoulders,” “I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Aerie was also released in 1971. It peaked at number 75 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Everyday,” “City of New Orleans” and “The Eagle and the Hawk.” The album was a modest hit.
Rocky Mountain High came out in 1972. The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Rocky Mountain High,” “Mother Nature’s Son,” “Paradise” and “Darcy Farrow.” Farewell Andromeda came out in 1973. It peaked at number 16 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “I’d Rather Be a Cowboy,” “Farewell Andromeda” and “Please, Daddy.” Back Home Again was released in 1974. The album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and number one on the country charts. It was his first chart-topping album. It features the singles “Annie’s Song,” “Back Home Again,” “Sweet Surrender” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” The album sold over two million copies.
Denver released Windsong in 1975. He was at the height of his career when this album was released. It peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 charts and number one on the country charts. It features the singles “I’m Sorry,” “Calypso,” “Looking for Space,” “Two Shots” and “Fly Away.” Spirit was released in 1976. It features the singles “Baby, You Look Good to Me Tonight,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “Like a Sad Song” and “San Antonio Rose.” This album was the start of a decline in Denver’s record sales. I Want to Live was released in 1977. It peaked at number 45 on the Billboard 200 charts and number 10 on the country charts. It features the singles “How Can I Leave You Again,” “It Amazes Me” and “I Want to Live.”
Autograph came out in 1980. It peaked at number 39 on the Billboard 200 charts and 28 on the country charts. It features the singles “Dancing with the Mountains,” “Song for the Life,” “In My Heart” and “Autograph.” Some Days Are Diamonds was released in 1981. The album peaked at number seven on the country charts and number 32 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone),” “Country Love” and “The Cowboy and the Lady.”
Seasons of the Heart was released in 1982. It peaked at number 18 on the country charts and number 39 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Shanghai Breezes,” “What One Man Can Do” and “Seasons of the Heart.” He released It’s About Time in 1983. It peaked at number 55 on the country charts and 61 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Wild Montana Skies,” “Thought of You,” “Hold on Tightly” and “I Remember Romance.”
Dreamland Express came out in 1985. It peaked at number 64 on the country charts and number 90 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Dreamland Express,” “Don’t Close Your Eyes Tonight,” “Claudette” and “Got My Heart Set on You.” One World was released in 1986. It features the singles “Along for the Ride (’56 T-Bird),” “Let Us Begin (What Are We Making Weapons For?),” “Flying for Me” and “Let Us Begin.” He released several more albums throughout his career.
John Denver was a successful singer and songwriter. He paved the way for other singers to create music that wasn’t mainstream. He had hit songs in different genres of music. He was one of the artists who managed to achieve success on multiple albums. He received awards for his work in music. His life was cut short when he died in a plane crash, but his memory lives on through his work. This Top 10 John Denver Songs list will features his best songs.
# 10 – Thank God I’m a Country Boy
The first song on our Top 10 John Denver Songs list is “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” from the Back Home Again album. The song has a country and folk sound. The nostalgic song is about him wanting to settle in the country. His fans know that he is a country boy and he was happy to sing about it. The lyrics are upbeat and are filled with pride and happiness. The music has a country flare to it. It features the fiddle and the guitar. He also included handclaps that sounded just like music. The music is energetic and upbeat which was appropriate for the subject.
The song had enough tempo to make you dance. You can practically picture the square dancing going on while listening to the music. If you close your eyes, you can see people square dancing to the song. There are instrumental pauses that give you a chance to focus on the music. Denver sounds like he’s beaming with pride as he sings about country life. He’s able to keep up with the upbeat music. He sings the lyrics fast without taking a breath. He even manages to hold a note while keeping up with the fast pace of the track. You don’t have to be a fan of country music to enjoy the song. The song is definitely a country track, but you can still appreciate the message behind the song.
# 9 – Rocky Mountain High
The next song on our Top 10 John Denver Songs list is “Rocky Mountain High” from the album of the same name. The track has a country, rock and folk beat. The feel-good song is about his love of the Colorado Mountains. He wanted to preserve them. Here is some trivia about the song. The song was banned from radio because the FCC thought the word “high” was promoting drug abuse. Denver had to clarify that the word “high” was describing a sense of peace he found in the mountains. He wasn’t talking about drugs at all. The lyrics are deep and powerful. He was talking about a type of peace that you could only achieve if you knew about the Rocky Mountains. He enjoyed talking about nature so this song was in his comfort zone.
If you pay attention to the lyrics, you will be moved by what he had to say. You don’t have to be from that part of the country to appreciate the beauty of the lyrics. It makes you want to live in the area because it sounds like a peaceful and relaxing place. The music doesn’t sound like typical country music. It sounds spiritual. It sounds more like folk music than country music. The music is simple and cathartic. It will put you in a relaxing mood. Denver’s tenor vocals are perfect for the music. He layers his voice in the chorus. He sounds like multiple people singing the song. He holds notes towards the end of the song that sound pretty good.
# 8 – Calypso
“Calypso” is from the Windsong album. It has a folk and country sound. This song is a dedication to Jacques–Ives Cousteau and his research ship. “Calyspo” was the name of the boat that sailed around the world. This is definitely a different type of song. It’s not everyday people write songs about a ship. He proved that he could write about anything. It was a testament to how creative he was that he managed to write a song about a ship and made it sound catchy. You can even hear ship bells at the beginning of the song. The touching ballad doesn’t have the typical country or folk sound.
It sounds more like easy listening music. The orchestral arrangement is moving. It features the strings and winds that give the song a therapeutic feel to it. It makes you feel like your sitting by the ocean. The title gives the impression that the song would have been faster than it was. He sings the verses in a melodic way. The melody has a familiar feel to it. He sings in time with the music. He vocalizes in the chorus. He sounds like he might be yodeling while he’s vocalizing. His voice is stacked in the chorus, which makes it sound like he’s using a double.
# 7 – Poems, Prayers and Promises
The reflective song is from the album of the same name. It has a folk sound to it. The mellow song is about going down memory lane as well as looking forward to the future. He talks about growing older. He takes the listeners back to an easier time in life. The lyrics are moving and will have you thinking about life. It’s sad to think that he talked about growing older, but he never got the chance to do it. He died at the age of 53 so he never got older. The song sounds like something James Taylor would have sang. It’s similar to his song “Fire and Rain.”
The music sounds like a cross between folk and easy listening. Fans of both genres could appreciate the song. The string section is lush and sentimental. The violin and the acoustic guitar stand out the most in the song. John Denver’s tender and sweet vocals sell the song. He sounds similar to James Taylor. He does have a little twang in his voice, which is a nod to his country roots. He also tries his hand at vibrato. He vocals are soft and soothing. He doesn’t shout or hold big notes. He didn’t need to do it because the song didn’t require it.
# 6 – Don’t Close Your Eyes Tonight
The cathartic song is from the Dreamland Express album. The song has an adult contemporary sound. The tender song is about a man wanting his woman to let go of her emotional baggage and allow herself to be free with him. At the time the song was released, Denver was struggling to regain his popularity. The music business was shifting in a different direction so he had to change his style of music. This track was his way of adapting to the change. The change worked for him because it turned out to be a good song.
This moving ballad has a classic 80s sound. It’s different from his previous songs. He acclimated to the style of that time. He decided to try his hand at adult contemporary music. The song doesn’t sound like country music at all. It sounds more like soft rock meets adult contemporary music. The horn section and drums stand out in the song. Denver took chances vocally on the track. He sounds deeper than he does on his other songs. He sings in time with the beat changes. He didn’t write the song, but he sang it as if he did. He was dealing with personal issues when he recorded the song, but you would never know that by listening to him sing the track.
# 5 – Fly Away ft. Olivia Newton-John
The next song on our Top 10 John Denver Songs list is “Fly Away” from the Windsong album. The song has a country and folk sound. This is another nostalgic song about simpler times. The lyrics talk about escaping loneliness and longing for a simpler time. The gorgeous song is about loneliness, but the lyrics manage not to sound weepy and depressing. The music contradicts the theme of the song. The music makes the song sound like it’s an upbeat track when it’s not.
The music is simple and beautiful. The music features the violin and acoustic guitar. Denver and Olivia Newton-John work well together. Their voices have a lot of chemistry. Their voices blend well together. He sings the song with a double that adds something special to the song. She sings throughout the song. She harmonizes very well. She sounds like an angel on the track. They are an unlikely pairing, but they made it work. She holds a magnificent high note at the end.
# 4 – Sunshine on My Shoulder
The inspirational song is from the Poems, Prayers and Promises album. The song has a folk beat. The metaphoric song is about him missing the sunlight. He’s basically talking about life being better and the sun represents a better life. Here is some trivia about the song. Denver wanted to write a song about depression, but it’s not a sad song. The lyrics will put a smile on your face. He talked about loving the sun. The song is his first number one track. It helped put Denver on the map.
The song is perfect to listen to when you are feeling down. It will lift your spirit and give you a sense of hope. The music is tender and simple. The music is breathtaking and powerful. It features the acoustic guitar, piano, oboe and strings. The music arrangement is out of this world. It’s just as beautiful as the lyrics and his vocals. It’s time to talk about Denver’s vocals. He is right at home with this song. He does a convincing job selling this song. His vocals blend well with the music. He doesn’t turn it into a power ballad, but that wasn’t necessary since the music is soft.
# 3 – Annie’s Song
This romantic song is from the Back Home Again album. It has a folk, rock and country sound. The expressive tearjerker is about Denver’s wife. It was one of his most personal songs at the time he recorded it. He wrote about the happiness he felt in his marriage. Denver wrote this song in 10 minutes. The words must have come to him very easily to write it that fast. The song is a perfect wedding song. It’s ironic that when he wrote the song, his marriage was on the verge of ending.
He managed to write a beautiful song that was suitable for a wedding. The music doesn’t sound like typical country music. It sounds like adult contemporary music. The music is stripped allowing the listeners to focus on the beautiful lyrics and his vocals. His tone is perfect for the music. He sings a little louder than the music since it’s soft, but it works. He sounds like he’s belting. He holds notes and tries to turn the song into a power ballad. Everything about the song works.
# 2 – I’m Sorry
This apologetic song is from the Windsong album. It has a country, folk and pop sound to it. The regret-filled song is about unrequited love. It’s about a love that has gone wrong. He wants the woman to know he’s sorry for everything. He accepts blame for things that he’s not responsible for doing. It’s how he proves how deeply sorry he is about everything. It has a theme people who have been in love can relate to. The music is stripped down. It features the acoustic guitar, the violin, wind chimes and the bongos. The music is soothing and relaxing.
The violin stands out the most on the track. It’s moving and makes this song sound like a tearjerker. Denver sounds vulnerable on this song. He allows his emotions to seep in the song. He harmonizes on the track. He belts in the song without over singing. He holds notes towards the end and almost turns the song into a power ballad. This is Denver’s last pop hit so he went out with a bang. He wanted to save the best for last and we did too.
# 1 – Take Me Home, Country Roads
The number one song on our Top 10 John Denver Songs list is “Take Me Home, Country Roads” from the Poems, Prayers and Promises album. It has a country sound to it. The yearning song is about longing for life in the country. He talks about his life in the country. Here is some trivia about the song. The people who wrote the song wanted to give it to Johnny Cash first. He didn’t record the song so Denver ended up with it. It was a wise choice because the song was a hit for him. The song has a country feel to it, but you don’t have to be a fan of that type of music to appreciate it. This toe tapper will have you bopping your head to it. There is enough tempo for you to move around.
The acoustic guitar makes you want to play air guitar. The guitar section gives the song its country vibes. Denver sounds like he’s at the top of his game vocally. His vocals are strong throughout the track. He belts without sounding like he’s shouting. He holds little notes throughout the song. The background vocalists do a great job supporting him. There’s only two other people singing in the song, but they sound like a choir when they sing together.
Feature Photo: ABC Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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