John Denver scarred state
August 17, 2011
Your editorial supporting the further monumentalization of the drippy songster John Denver by having a perfectly blameless mountain peak named after him notes that the proposal is opposed only by “detractors” who “are definitely in the minority.”
If true, that’s too bad. Back in my day in Aspen we liked to think of ourselves as hard-to-fool iconoclasts. If a mountain were to be named after any singer of the day he might have been Jimi Hendrix or Bob Dylan. He would not have been John Denver.
Many of us viewed the latter as being in the very vanguard of creeping niceness and a partisan of the kind of lost thinking that never saw a self-realization scheme it didn’t like. Denver was a cultural and commercial aggrandizer when it came to Aspen. He liked to promote the town in ways the town didn’t like.
Who can ever forget his base mid-’70s Christmas Eve television special, in which scenes of a snowy Aspen were shown while “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem” played over it without irony?
As for our hero’s vaunted environmentalism, you do it no service by quoting the lyrics “Why they try to tear the mountains down/To bring in a couple more/More people, more scars upon the land …” I’m not one to find these lyrics either important or inspiring. But if they are, you have to admit that John Denver and his lyrics inspired more people to move to Colorado than kept them away. There are new scars upon the land in that proposition. Not all mountain peaks need names.
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