What do you think of when you hear John Denver songs?
Is it crystal clear lyrics and a sweet sound? Or, do you have specific numbers that come to mind?
Keep reading to learn about the man behind these greatest tracks.
Let’s jump in!
The John Denver Story
John Denver was born in 1943 on New Year’s Eve in Roswell, New Mexico. He became a folk music singer in the 60s. Though his biggest successes were in the 1970s as a solo artist.
Denver’s songs were mainly about his love for nature and relationship difficulties. He spent most of his life in Aspen, Colorado. Not only did he love writing and performing music, but he also loved flying, skiing, and golfing.
During his 30 year career, he recorded 30 studio albums, eight live albums, and 16 compilation albums. Denver had eleven number one singles out of the nearly 300 songs. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified 33 albums and singles as Gold and Platinum.
In 1997, John Denver died tragically at 53 while piloting a light plane.
#7 Sweet Surrender
About the Song: John Denver wrote and sang this mid-70s hit. Sweet Surrender made it to #13 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1975. It also spent eight weeks in the Top 40 and peaked at #1 on the adult contemporary chart.
The track appears on Denver’s 1974 album, Back Home Again, and on his 1975 concert record, An Evening with John Denver. In addition, Walt Disney used the song as the opening theme song to The Bears and I movie.
And I don't know what the future is holdin' in store I don't know where I'm goin', I'm not sure where I've been There's a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me My life is worth the livin', I don't need to see the end
First Appearance: 1974, Denver’s Back Home Again album
#6 I’m Sorry
About the Song: I’m Sorry is a song about heartbreak and taking love for granted. The tune reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts in 1975. It also topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Canadian charts. Denver wrote the chart-topping track as an apology to his wife, and maybe as a little bit of a pity party.
But they all know I'm crying And I can't sleep at night They all know I'm dying down deep inside I'm sorry If I took some things for granted I'm sorry For the chains I put on you
First Appearance: 1975, Denver’s Windsong album
#5 Rocky Mountain High
About the Song: Rocky Mountain High is one of two official state songs of Colorado. It was written by Denver and his friend Mike Taylor in 1972 as a love song to the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the need to preserve them.
The track peaked at #9 on Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold by the RIAA. The Western Writers of American ranked this John Denver tune as one of the Top 10 Western songs of all time.
Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams Seeking grace in every step he takes His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake
First Appearance: 1972, single from Denver’s Rocky Mountain High album
#4 Thank God I’m a Country Boy
About the Song: Also known as “Country Boy,” Thank God I’m a Country Boy” is a happy tune about the beautiful simplicity of rural life. The music is full of joy, clapping, and fiddles. John Martin Sommers wrote the melody, and John Denver recorded a studio version of the track and a live version.
The live number is on the 1975 An Evening with John Denver album. That recording hit #1 on Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts.
I'd play "Sally Goodin'" all day if I could But the Lord and my wife wouldn't take it very good So I fiddle when I can and I work when I should Thank God I'm a country boy
First Appearance: 1975, a track from Denver’s Back Home Again album
#3 Sunshine On My Shoulders
About the Song: This inspirational number was written by John Denver, Dick Kniss, and Mike Taylor. Sunshine On My Shoulders was Denver’s first number one hit as a recording artist. Denver released the track in 1971 on the Poems, Prayers & Promises album. Carly Rae Jepsen covered the tune in 2008.
If I had a day that I could give you I'd give to you the day just like today If I had a song that I could sing for you I'd sing a song to make you feel this way
First Appearance: 1971, Denver’s Poems, Prayers & Promises album
#2 Annie’s Song
About the Song: John Denver wrote Annie’s Song in 1974. It was a love song to his then-wife, Annie Martell Denver, but it never mentions Annie’s name anywhere in words. The tune was a massive international hit for Denver, topping UK, Canadian, Australian, and Irish charts. Annie’s Song peaked at #9 on Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Easy Listening chart.
Come let me love you, let me give my life to you Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms Let me lay down beside you, let me always be with you Come let me love you, come love me again
First Appearance: 1974, single from Denver’s Back Home Again album
#1 Take Me Home, Country Roads
About the Song: Take Me Home, Country Roads is John Denver’s most famous song. It was written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver. Danoff and Nivert created the piece. They planned to sell it to Johnny Cash, but Denver convinced them otherwise. Together, they completed the track.
On December 30, 1970, During Denver’s first set, he, Danoff, and Nivert read the words together. They received a standing ovation. The next day, Denver recorded the track. The RIAA certified the song Gold in 1971 and then Platinum in 2017. In March 2014, the tune became one of West Virginia’s state anthems.
We could probably write an entire novel talking about this tune, including its continued impact on pop culture and ongoing generations.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River Life is old there, older than the trees Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze
First Appearance: 1971, from Denver’s Poems, Prayers & Promises album
Which John Denver Song is Your Favorite?
There you have it! The seven greatest John Denver songs. Even people who don’t love folk or country know and enjoy many of his songs. Which one is your favorite?