About The Song

Rocky Mountain High: A Song Steeped in Beauty and Controversy

John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is more than just a catchy tune. It’s a folk-rock anthem that captures the grandeur of the Colorado Rockies, the thrill of a new life, and the undercurrent of environmental concerns. This beloved song has become synonymous with the state of Colorado, even earning the distinction of being one of its official state songs.

Background

John Denver’s move to Aspen, Colorado in 1969 significantly impacted his life and music. The breathtaking scenery and the simple mountain lifestyle deeply inspired him. Three years later, this inspiration coalesced into “Rocky Mountain High,” co-written with his friend and banjo player, Mike Taylor.

The song was released in 1972 as the title track of Denver’s album of the same name. It quickly became a hit, reaching number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973. “Rocky Mountain High” established Denver as a leading figure in the burgeoning genre of folk-rock, bringing the beauty of the natural world to a wider audience.

Musical Style

“Rocky Mountain High” blends elements of folk and rock music. Denver’s warm baritone vocals are accompanied by a gentle acoustic guitar melody. The chorus explodes with a full band sound, featuring electric guitars, drums, and soaring piano parts. This dynamic shift between introspective verses and uplifting choruses mirrors the vastness and grandeur of the Rocky Mountains themselves.

The song incorporates elements of bluegrass with its prominent banjo picking, particularly in the bridge section. This adds a layer of rustic charm and evokes a sense of place. The overall sound is optimistic and celebratory, perfectly capturing the wide-eyed wonder Denver felt upon moving to Colorado.

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Lyrics

The lyrics of “Rocky Mountain High” paint a vivid picture of the Colorado Rockies. Denver sings about the “crystaline streams” and the “fragrant forest air,” creating a sensory experience for the listener. He describes the feeling of being “high” not just in altitude, but also in spirit, overwhelmed by the beauty of the mountains.

The song’s famous line, “Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky,” has been the subject of much debate. Some interpret it literally, referring to the vibrant sunsets that paint the sky with fiery hues. Others see it as a metaphor for the intense emotions and sense of awe Denver experienced in the mountains.

An interesting aspect of the lyrics is the subtle touch of environmental awareness. The seventh stanza mentions the “bulldozers stallin’ in the high country side,” hinting at the potential threat of unchecked development on the pristine landscape. This subtle foreshadowing adds depth to the song, acknowledging the potential impact humans can have on the environment.

Cultural Impact

“Rocky Mountain High” has become synonymous with the state of Colorado. The song is often played at sporting events, festivals, and tourist attractions. In 2007, it was designated as one of Colorado’s two official state songs, solidifying its place as a cultural icon.

The song’s popularity has also fueled tourism in Colorado, attracting visitors eager to experience the beauty Denver sings about. However, this has also led to concerns about the very environment the song celebrates. The influx of tourists can put a strain on natural resources and contribute to environmental degradation.

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“Rocky Mountain High” has transcended its geographical roots. It’s a song about finding inspiration and joy in nature, a sentiment that resonates with people all over the world. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to Denver’s ability to capture a universal feeling of wonder and connection to the natural world.

The debate surrounding the line “Colorado Rocky Mountain high” continues to spark conversation. Some argue that the song promotes drug use, while others defend it as a poetic expression. Regardless of interpretation, the line’s ambiguity has only added to the song’s mystique.

Conclusion

“Rocky Mountain High” is more than just a catchy tune. It’s a cultural touchstone, a celebration of nature’s beauty, and a gentle reminder of the need to protect it. John Denver’s iconic song continues to inspire and evoke emotions, reminding us of the power of nature to uplift the human spirit.

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Lyrics

🎵 Let’s sing along with the lyrics! 🎤

He was born in the summer of his 27th year, coming 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
When he first came to the mountains, his life was far away on the road and hanging by a song
But the strings already broken and he doesn’t really care
It keeps changing fast, and it don’t last for long

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And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
The shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high

He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds below
He saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once and he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend, but kept the memory
Now he walks in quiet solitude, the forest and the streams, seeking grace in every step he takes
His sight is turned inside himself, to try and understand
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high

Now his life is full of wonder, but his heart still knows some fear
Of a simple thing he can not comprehend
Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more
More people, more scars upon the land

And the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
I know he’d be a poor man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky Mountain high, the Colorado Rocky Mountain high, I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky
Friends around the campfire and everybody’s high
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high
Rocky Mountain high, Colorado. Rocky Mountain high

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