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‘Rocky Mountain High’ point

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

John Denver was a controversial figure when he was alive, and he’s managed to spark controversy a decade after he died.The Colorado Legislature overwhelmingly named one of his biggest hits as the second official state song Monday. Lawmakers adopted “Rocky Mountain High” as such by a 28-6 margin in the Senate, and 50-11 in the House. The move came despite feelings by some that the lyrics glorify drug use and thus are not appropriate for a state song.”I have a different perspective on that,” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.Schwartz knew Denver personally and recalled that he “was always talking about the opportunity to have a natural high, and to be inspired and empowered by our natural environment. I never associated marijuana use with [the song], particularly.”When told of the legislative action, the singer’s brother said, “That’s fantastic. That’s great. He would be so proud and very honored, and I, too, am very pleasantly surprised. It’s certainly an honor for our family.”Ron Deutschendorf of California said the family knew nothing about the measure until a call last week informed them that the Legislature was about to take a vote on the matter.Asked to comment on the drug controversy, Deutschendorf chuckled and noted, “We ran into some resistance when the song was out, too, about that one line.” But he declined to provide any information about the meaning of the line – “friends around the campfire and everybody’s high.””I think it’s better left to the imagination, because it could go either way, it’d be correct either way,” he said.”Rocky Mountain High,” which Denver wrote in 1972 and recorded a year later while he was living in Aspen, now stands next to the state’s original official song, “Where The Columbines Grow,” by A.J. Flynn.Flynn, a Denver educator who won a statewide competition, wrote his song in 1911 and dedicated it to Colorado’s pioneers, although few people know the lyrics or have ever heard it.According to a survey by the Denver Post, there have been no fewer than five attempts to either replace Flynn’s song or simply get rid of a state song. The first such attempt came in 1916, the year after Flynn’s song attained its official status, because the Colorado Federation of Women’s Clubs reportedly complained that it never mentions Colorado by name.The effort to honor Denver’s song, the Post reported, started in 1997, the year the singer died in a plane crash off the California coast. Apparently a Fort Collins fourth-grader wanted the ballad adopted as the state song, but her campaign was not successful.The measure to pair Flynn’s tune with Denver’s was a joint resolution by Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, and 23 of his compatriots, including Schwartz. In the House, the sponsor was Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Arapahoe, and 33 of her fellow representatives.The controversy surrounding the measure included comments by Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi, who worried about Colorado becoming “the first state to pick a song that endorses the high life” and suggested Denver’s music belongs “in Muzak form on supermarket speakers or during a marathon TimeLife infomercial hosted by Air Supply.”Hagedorn scoffed at the notion that the song was inappropriate. He said the line in question could refer to “a bunch of guys who spent the day hunting or fishing and are having a couple six-packs” or to “kids pigging out on s’mores,” according to a story in the Post.Harsanyi suggested that Colorado adopt “America The Beautiful,” which Katharine Lee Bates wrote after seeing the Great Plains from atop Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs.”What else could be more Colorado?” he asked.But the legislators agreed Denver’s song “reflects the strength and beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the importance of preserving the natural beauty of our state.”Local musician Sandy Munro, who also owns Great Divide Music Store in Aspen, played accompaniment for Denver in the 1970s: “I think that’s great, even if everybody was sitting around the campfire getting high,” Munro said of the honor.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com

By John DenverHe was born in the summer of his 27th yearComin’ home to a place he’d never been beforeHe left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born againYou might say he found a key for every doorWhen he first came to the mountains his life was far awayOn the road and hangin’ by a songBut the string’s already broken and he doesn’t really careIt keeps changin’ fast and it don’t last for longBut the Colorado Rocky Mountain highI’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the skyThe shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullabyRocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado)He climbed cathedral mountains, he saw silver clouds belowHe saw everything as far as you can seeAnd they say he got crazy once, and he tried to touch the sunAnd he lost a friend but kept his memoryNow he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streamsSeeking grace in every step he takesHis sight has turned inside himself to try and understandThe serenity of a clear blue mountain lakeAnd the Colorado Rocky Mountain highI’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the skyYou can talk to God and listen to the casual replyRocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado)Now his life is full of wonder but his heart still knows some fearOf a simple thing he cannot comprehendWhy they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple moreMore people, more scars upon the landAnd the Colorado Rocky Mountain highI’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the skyI know he’d be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle flyRocky Mountain highIt’s a Colorado Rocky Mountain highI’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the skyFriends around the campfire and everybody’s highRocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high (high Colorado) Rocky Mountain high do de doSource: http://www.lyricsfreak.com


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