Archive for October, 2010

I Remember John Denver

Remember the RSAF Apache Attack Helicopter (AH-64D) that crashed landed between Woodlands Avenue 12 and Woodlands Driver 75 open field on 30 Sep 2010 in the afternoon;

Credit : STOMP

I was sorting some old newspapers yesterday when I came across this article again and somehow reminded me of John Denver’s odd shaped Long-EZ plane that crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Pacific Grove, California killing him on 12 October 1997.

Credit :

Today, 13 years after his death, many youngsters including my son (16) and daughter (11) may not even have heard of his songs.

John Denver, a pilot with over 2,700 hours of flying, was flying his newly purchased kit aircraft designed by Burt Rutan (one of the world’s greatest aerospace designer). The flaw that led to John Denver’s death were the work of the builder and had nothing to do with the designer. The flaws (placement of the fuel selection valve) were meant to improve on the designer’s work however kill Denver. Other factors that led to his death include his unfamilarity with the aircraft and failure to refuel it. The wreck had badly disfigured Denver’s head and body.

I remember John Denver cowboy figure with long blond hair, with his signature round granny glasses and a cowboy hat;

I love listening to his songs in the 70s when I was a primary 4 or maybe 5 boy and of course the first song I listened to, that probably made him popular, was “Take me home, country road“.

As I was only in primary school with little pocket money, so I had to tape down his songs with a blank cassette tape direct from the radio. This seem common to most school boys of my time but of course not now any more with technology advancement. I love John Denver’s songs as he shared his personal history via his songs. This song “Take me home, country road” was written by his friends Taffy Nivert, Bill Danoff and together with him. Inspiration came to Danoff and Nivert while driving to a family reunion and to pass time en route, Danoff made up the ballad about the little winding roads in the journey. Later the story changed to fit an artist friend who told him about the splendors of West Virginia countryside. The three stayed up till the early morning, changing lyrics and moving lines and Denver decided to use this song for his album, Poems, Prayers and Promises;

The original album advertising art;

Credit : Janet Reva Maslin, Rolling Stone, 9/16/71

This album Poems, Prayers and Promises did not contain all John Denver’s songs and include songs from Paul McCartney and John Lennon, etc. The other song that I liked in this album is “Sunshine On My Shoulders” sung by John Denver;

John Denver’s first album was “Rhymes and Reasons” released in 1969 by RCA Records. Of course during that time, vinyl records were the in-thing as there wasn’t such a thing as CDs yet. This definitely make up my favourite song list from him;

You may see how this song Rhymes and Reasons was interpreted here, interesting. This was his debut album after going solo as before he was usually sang and performed with groups.

The other song “Leaving on a jet plane” in his debut album, was originally named “Babe I hate to go”, which was a demo song Denver gave out as Christmas presents. The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary sang this song and their version became the Billboard Hot 100 number one hit.

Synchronicity are things seem like more then mere coincidence and one good example is John Denver’s songs. One may relate his song “Leaving on a jet plane” to John Denver died in his plane…. The other song “Rocky Mountain High” that he wrote relate how much he loved Colorado till his death. The capitol of Colorado is Denver – he adopted this surname “Denver” instead of his name “Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr”.

Some of my favourites are;

Annie’s Song : This song was written as an ode to his then wife Annie. It took him only ten and a half minutes in a ski lift on top of the Bell Mountain in Aspen, Colorado. Thinking about his wife at that moment inspired him to write this song.

Perhaps Love : This song became a commercial success because the record player couldn’t work at that time. Denver wrote this song and recorded with Pacido Domingo as a duet. The owner of the radio station wanted to hear it but the record player was down so he played it live over the air. In seconds, calls came in asking where they could get the record and it became a smash hit! Interesting?

Last but not least Sweet Surrender : This song was chosen as the lead single from the concert album “An Evening with John Denver” recorded in 1974.

If you want to read a bit more on him, here it is. Though we may have CDs now, but nothing beats listening to his song on tapes and records.


What my father wrote;

“Death quits all scores.”



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October 2010