It’s probably been 40 years (or more) since it was even remotely cool to call yourself a John Denver fan. For many, Denver became a punchline for his wholesome, clean-cut image … but you can’t argue with the success he had in the 1970s. I’ve been a big, big fan ever since I was a kid and my dad played “An Evening With John Denver” over and over again on his old reel-to-reel.
One of the most beloved entertainers of his era, Denver was a fixture on television, the radio and in the movies. Sadly, Denver died in October 1997 at age 53, leaving behind a musical legacy that will linger. His recording career is being celebrated with “All of My Memories: The John Denver Collection,” an exhaustive boxed set that spans the years 1964-1997.
Including in the four-disc, 90-track set are entries from Denver’s studio and live albums, along with demos, promotional rarities and six previously unreleased tracks. It’s an essential offering for anyone who loves Denver’s signature brand of pleasing country-rock.
All the classic tunes are here — Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “The Eagle and the Hawk” — and it’s always a pleasure hearing him perform each and every one. Among the previously unreleased tunes, check out 1964 demos “The Road” and “Far Side of the Hill,” 1969 track “Rhymes and Reasons,” a 1976 alternate take of “Eli’s Song” and his 1973 rendition of “It’s Sin to Tell a Lie.” John Denver was one of the greats. (Jeffrey Sisk)