// Album Recommendation

John Denver

Sunshine On My Shoulders: The Best Of John Denver

(2009)

”Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high.”

Sunshine On My Shoulders: The Best Of John Denver by John Denver

In the 1970s, the era of the sensitive singer/songwriter, John Denver was one of the most recognizable and highly beloved of them all, racking up an impressive number of hit albums and singles throughout the decade. His record sales eventually earned him 14 gold albums and 8 platinum albums in the U.S., plus numerous gold and platinum albums overseas, as well as many awards and honors (including his 1996 induction into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame). To this day, John Denver has sold in excess of 60 million albums worldwide, and his music continues to sell well, as evidenced by the various compilations released nearly every year. Out of all of these, the double-disc Sunshine On My Shoulders: The Best Of John Denver might just be the most satisfying John Denver compilation available for casual fans and collectors alike.

Collecting all of 36 of John Denver’s most affecting and memorable Folk and Country recordings from his heyday in the 70s, it’s a well-chosen selection of gorgeous hit singles and album tracks. Sunshine On My Shoulders: The Best Of John Denver sets itself apart from other John Denver compilations by not making room for any of his later, less engaging work from the 80s and the 90s, except 1981’s endearing Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone) and 1982’s flute-tinged Shanghai Breezes, thus ensuring that there is no dip in quality – just one topnotch song after the other. Amongst these are the nostalgic and yearning Take Me Home Country Roads (“Almost heaven, West Virginia / Blue rich mountains, Shenandoah River / Life is old there / Older than the trees / Younger than the mountains / Blowin' like a breeze”), the sweepingly romantic Annie’s Song (written for Denver’s then-wife), the serene and tranquil Sunshine On My Shoulders, the Paul McCartney-/Beatles-esque Friends With You, and the lovely, sentimental folk ballads My Sweet Lady and This Old Guitar.

John Denver’s deep and abiding love of the natural world shone through in his environmental activism (he was nicknamed "The Poet For the Planet" and "Mother Nature’s Son" after The Beatles song he covered), and also in the lyrics to many of his songs, for instance his odes to the beauty and healing powers of nature: the enchanting Starwood In Aspen about his mountain home Starwood in Aspen, Colorado (“It’s a long way from L.A. to Denver / It’s a long time to hang in the sky / It’s a long way home to Starwood in Aspen / A sweet Rocky Mountain paradise / Oh, my sweet Rocky Mountain paradise”), the inspirational and uplifting Looking For Space (“And I'm looking for space / And to find out who I am / And I'm looking to know and understand / It's a sweet, sweet dream / Sometimes I'm almost there / Sometimes I fly like an eagle / And sometimes I'm deep in despair”), and one of Denver’s signature tunes, the anthem Rocky Mountain High, his account of coming to Colorado for the first time and feeling like he’d finally found a place that he could really call his home (“He was born in the summer of his 27th year / Comin' home to a place he'd never been before / He left yesterday behind him / You might say he was born again / You might say he found a key for every door”).

In 2007, the Colorado Senate chose Rocky Mountain High as one of Colorado’s two official state songs. The lyrics to the song are engraved in a stone in Rio Grande Park near Denver’s hometown of Aspen. John Denver embodied traditional, old-fashioned values and an unabashed, distinctly American sentiment that still ring true. His heyday may be long gone, but his legacy –- be it music or environmental and humanitarian messages -– is as relevant today as ever and continues to captivate old and new fans all over the world.

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