The tenderness of Annie’s Song is undeniable. From the heartfelt lyrics to the sweetness of John Denver’s vocals, it’s one of the most beautiful love songs ever written.
You may have asked yourself at some point who Annie was and how this song came to be.
The woman behind Annie’s Song was an important person in Denver’s life.
We took a look into more about who she is and how she inspired the lyrics to one of John Denver’s most beloved songs.
Let’s dive in!
John Denver’s Story
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born on New Year’s Eve 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. He would later change his name professionally to John Denver, named after the capital city in his favorite state of Colorado.
As the son of an Air Force pilot, he spent his early childhood moving around a lot with his family. At age 11, while the family was stationed in Tucson, Arizona, John received his first guitar, previously owned by his grandmother. He began taking guitar lessons and also joined the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus.
A couple of years later, the USAF transferred his dad to Montgomery, Alabama. The culture shock of school segregation in the late 1950s was disappointing to young John.
Not long after, his family moved again, this time to Fort Worth, Texas. Unhappy in his new location, John left high school and took off to California in his dad’s car. He had dreams of starting his musical career in a more hospitable state. His father soon found him and flew him back to Texas to finish high school.
Following His Heart
In 1963, at the age of 20, John dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to follow his true passion. His first taste of playing music professionally was as the lead singer in The Mitchell Trio. The trio recorded three albums over two years. During this time, John developed his songwriting style and singing technique.
In 1969, John Denver was ready to begin his solo career and left The Mitchell Trio. He already had a demo recording he’d produced himself, including the song Babe, I Hate to Go. The folk group Peter, Paul, and Mary would later title it Leaving on a Jet Plane and make the song famous.
During this same time, John married Annie Martell, and they lived in Annie’s home state of Minnesota from 1968 to 1971. Inspired by a camping trip in Aspen, Colorado, they decided to buy a home and move to the mountain town.
By the early 70s, John Denver had solidified his role as a popular solo artist. Songs such as Rocky Mountain High, Annie’s Song, and Sunshine on My Shoulders topped the music charts. He also incorporated environmental, social, and political activism into his music.
John’s TV performances during the mid-70s also gained him recognition, including his 1975 Rocky Mountain Christmas special. He even won an Emmy Award in 1975 for his concert special An Evening With John Denver.
The 1980s saw John focus on humanitarian efforts while still recording albums and playing concerts. His first international performance happened in 1985 when the Soviet Union of Composers invited him to play in Russia. The following year, John played shows throughout the USSR. He was the first American to perform in Russia since the Cold War began in 1947.
In addition to music, John’s other passions included photography, backpacking, golfing, fishing, and flying airplanes.
He also had a significant interest in outer space and took NASA’s tests to determine whether he was suited for space travel. John nearly became the first civilian to join a space crew on the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger. As most people know, the spacecraft exploded during take-off, and there were no survivors.
An Early End
John’s interest in piloting small planes ultimately led to his death. On October 12, 1997, the small aircraft he was flying had problems with the fuel tanks and crashed near Pacific Grove, California. John was 53 years old.
Throughout his 30-year musical career, he released 25 studio albums. John also received nine music awards, including a posthumous Grammy in 1998 for Take Me Home, Country Road.
The impact John Denver’s music had is evident in the recognition he received after his death. His song Rocky Mountain High became an official Colorado state song in 2007. And in 2014, the Hollywood Walk of Fame added a John Denver star.
So, Why Is It Called Annie’s Song?
John named the song after his first wife, Annie Martell. In 1974, after seven years of marriage, they had a brief separation and nearly divorced. After they reunited, John wrote this beautiful love song in all of 10 minutes while on a ski lift near their home in Aspen.
The lyrics are sweet, sincere, and straight from the heart. John had been thinking about how grateful he was that he and Annie hadn’t divorced, and the words just flowed out.
You fill up my senses Like a night in a forest Like the mountains in springtime Like a walk in the rain Like a storm in the desert Like a sleepy blue ocean You fill up my senses Come fill me again
Annie’s Song is an example of how we can create something beautiful from a place of near heartbreak.
The couple eventually divorced in 1982. In a 1983 interview, Denver cited the demands of his music career as the reason for their split.
How Did John Denver Meet Annie?
John and Annie met in 1966 in St. Peter, Minnesota, Annie’s hometown. John had been on tour with The Mitchell Trio, and they performed a gig at Gustavus Adolphus College. Annie was a student at the college and, after the concert, the two struck up a conversation.
The couple married in June 1967 and resided in Minnesota until 1971, when they moved to Aspen, Colorado.
Did John Denver Adopt His Children?
Annie and John wanted to have children but were having a hard time becoming pregnant. After continued difficulties, they adopted Zachary John and Anna Kate in 1976.
John Denver had another daughter, Jesse Belle, in 1989 with his second wife, Cassandra Delaney. That marriage also ended in divorce in 1993.
Where is Annie Denver Now?
Annie Martell Denver has led a relatively private life since her divorce from John in 1982. All that’s known is she never remarried but did maintain a friendship with John after they separated.
Annie’s Song Touches Our Hearts
Now you know the story of Annie’s Song, which many consider one of the greatest love songs ever written. One can only hope to be loved so much that they inspire a work of art such as Annie’s Song.