On Thursday night I was treated to a concert featuring two of my favorite artists of my teen years. Olivia Newton-John hosted an evening of song and memories of John Denver, as part of Denver’s posthumous induction into the newly formed Colorado Music Hall Of Fame.
I was never much into music as a teen in the early 70’s. Until I heard the sweet sounds of Olivia Newton-John and her first hit, “Let Me Be There”. I sneaked off to the record store to buy Olivia’s album. Soon after I bought my second album, John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High. Growing up in Colorado I loved Denver’s songs about the beauty of my home state, and inspiring lyrics of his other songs.
Being a fan of Olivia Newton-John and John Denver in the early 70’s was definitely not cool! I remember hiding the albums in my room, not wanting my older brother to discover them, for fear of being teased. I kept my music tastes to myself, not sharing them with my friends, who were more into the rock artists of the day.
Thirty seven years later I finally got to see Olivia Newton-John in person as the MC of a program celebrating the music of John Denver. Olivia sang, as did the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Michael Murphy, John Oates, Lee Ann Womack, and others. It was an emotional night, capped by a video of John Denver singing “Annie’s Song” with Annie Denver then coming out and talking about how John wrote the song and what it meant to her.
John Denver’s music is still impacting people. Like Elvis he seems more popular now than he was in the last few years of his life. This quote from John Denver, read last night, summed up the feeling of the audience:
“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”