To most, John Denver is a joke.
To me, he is the sound of Christmas.
When I was a kid, my mom had the record (large, round, vinyl black thing with grooves) Rocky Mountain Christmas by John Denver. She played it every year at holiday time. Christmas starts for me with the first few tinkling notes of Aspenglow.
I would be happy if it was the only Christmas album I ever owned or played.
My mom didn’t own any other John Denver records. My crazy friend knew that I liked this Christmas album, so then on mix tapes she would put other non-Christmas John Denver songs. She didn’t understand. It wasn’t so much that I liked John Denver, it was that I liked his voice with this collection of Christmas songs from this period of time. From my childhood.
John Denver sings nice, straight-forward renditions of the classics: The Christmas Song, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the seldom-heard Silver Bells, Away in a Manger, What Child Is This, Oh Holy Night (a spectacular version), and Silent Night. There is no Mariah Carey warbling.
The original songs on the album are some of my favorites. I already mentioned Aspenglow. Christmas for Cowboys paints a wonderful musical picture of a lonely holiday on the snow-covered plains. My husband likes Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas). A Baby Just Like You is my favorite. John Denver wrote it for his own son Zachary. I love to belt out “MERRY CHRISTMAS LITTLE ZACHARY!” at the top of my lungs.
I know, I’m weird.
Sometimes now I change it to be my sons’ name.
Several years ago my mom bought the album on CD, so it was very nice to be able to listen to it again. The problem was, we had only one copy that we shared. (I have no idea why I never thought about burning a second copy. Oh ya, because that would be illegal.;)
Last year I found my own copy of Rocky Mountain Christmas on CD. I even found a concert version of the same songs. My mom is very happy I am no longer hogging her CD.
I still don’t understand why none of the Christmas music radio stations play anything off this album. They play other seldom-played artists. They always need different artists singing the same 12 traditional songs. And it would make me so happy.
I kept my mom’s record of Rocky Mountain Christmas all these years, even though there was no way to play it.
Last year, my husband and I picked up a Fisher Price children’s record player from the 80’s at a garage sale and a handful of records.
So, while I totally enjoy digital clarity, the ability to listen to it in my car, and load it on my iPod, I am playing the original record for my son as I write this. Sure, it is scratchy from 37 years of use and improper storage and probably a pretty dull needle. But it takes me right back to being a preschooler myself in my living room in our house in Riga, Michigan. In the terrible 70’s clothes that my mom dressed me in.
When you listen to the CD, you don’t have to see his dorky appearance.