Rocky Mountain highs

The big news from Colorado today is that the state wants to make a John Denver song its state song. The song in question, of course, could be none other than Denver's fabulous "Rocky Mountain High."

The decision is not without controversy, though you'd think they'd have laid this one to rest 30-some-odd years ago, when the AM station I listened to banned the song for possible drug references (that'd be the "high" part). According to the New York Times, the rebuttal is pretty lame:

    “A high is medically the releasing of endorphins in the brain — yes, drugs cause it, but so do lots of other things,” said State Senator Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat from the suburbs of Denver who successfully led the drive on Monday to make Mr. Denver’s anthem “Rocky Mountain High” Colorado’s second state song. The tune will have joint status with “Where the Columbines Grow,” which pretty much everyone agrees is about flowers.

Whatever Denver initially intended that word to mean (and I tend to believe in the innocent version, perhaps because, as an innocent when I first heard it, I knew exactly what he meant), that song is Colorado for those of us of a certain age. Denver's songs about the state caused me to fall in love with it back in seventh grade, are the reason I learned to play guitar, and have a lot to do, I will now admit, with my moving to Colorado as soon as I was old and solvent enough to do so. And I'm not alone, even if others don't want to admit it, Denver having developed a kind of geeky-squeaky image by the time the '80s rolled around.

However, I do think the CVB is slightly deluded when Denver CVB spokesman Richard Grant told the Times that using the lyrics in promotional materials is “certainly going to appeal to a lot of young people,” Mr. Grant said. “It’s just a cool thing to take a rock song and make it the official song.”

Um, I'd be hard put to classify it as a rock song, and I seriously doubt any young people have ever even heard of it, but for those of us who grew up in the '70s, or at least me, it still has a tremendous pull. I need to go back for a visit very, very soon. For those who don't know this song, check out this video (in addition to being a nerd, I'm also a big mush—watching it brought tears to my eyes. RIP, John):

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