By: Carol Henrichs
Rarely am I moved by 'new' music. When I want to crank up the music, I generally rely on the 'oldies,' the songs that hold special, even intimate memories for me. I love how music, especially songs from our 'prime,' can conjure up thoughts and feelings in such a way as to seemingly transport us back to another time.
One particular artist that completely transforms me and even has the power to move me to tears is John Denver. Whenever one of his songs plays on the radio, I stop what I’m doing so I can listen and even sing along. John Denver’s music has always held a special place in my heart. I particularly love the lyrics of his song “Rhymes and Reasons.”
“The children and the flowers are my sisters and my brothers. Their laughter and their loveliness would clear a cloudy day,...” The words to this song harkens back to my own philosophy of life.
Though “Rhymes and Reasons” wasn’t one of his most popular songs, and it is rarely played on the radio, it remains my favorite. “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” also holds special meaning for me because it had been my favorite song. I lived in a small town when it was popular and drove the country roads regularly. It was the song I always asked for in venues where live bands performed requests.
I was also particularly fond of “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulder,” and another favorite, “Poems, Prayers, and Promises.” These can still be heard now and then on the radio. These and others were from John Denver’s Greatest Hits album, released in 1973, a tumultuous time in my life.
Music was soothing to the soul and spirit. John Denver’s music allowed me to connect to a place deep within my heart. John Denver’s music sustained me for a very long time. The concepts behind the words he sang and the feelings he expressed were powerful and timeless. I practically wore out that CD, which I still play at times.
But the one particular memory that I hold dear occurred more than ten years later. I used to keep that CD in the car. When I got into the car, instead of turning on the radio, I turned on the CD player. John Denver’s voice was calming, casual, and familiar. It got to be familiar with my young song, Chris too. Whenever we would ride around on our way to picnics, chores, or out to lunch, we always did it to the sound of John Denver. I played other music too, but this was the old standby.
One day when we got into the car, Chris said, "Mommy, I love it when you sing." That of course came from my sweet, innocent four-year old who obviously hadn't developed maturity in his auditory organs yet. He is a grown man today and knows darn well that I can't sing a lick. I was never fooled by my own inability to carry a tune either. But that never stopped me. I have been singing along with my favorite tunes all my life. I guess this proves that even if you don't possess musical talent, you can still reap the benefit of musical magic.
When John Denver died, I felt like I lost a close, personal friend, probably not unlike so many other people who listened and felt a special connection to his music. I even saw him in concert once, with a dear friend. It was a sensational experience, a wonderful memory that I’m grateful to have and to hold onto. His music has endured. Even today, so many years later, for me, his music remains a powerful force.