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Christmas Music Playlists with John Denver Songs
Use Those Country Roads To Take You Home This Christmas
The 70’s produced so much homespun charm it almost makes sense that a character like Gordon Gekko could have emerged the following decade to retaliate against all the niceness. With the Waltons and Little House on The Prairie putting family first and celebrating the little things in life it made sense that an artist boasting similar themes would emerge in the music industry. And that mantel fell to folk singer and all round bard John Denver who preached about all things good and that home was truly where the heart was. Inevitably that meant that Denver was well placed to conjure plenty of magical yuletide memories, which he did over 3 Christmas albums.
Although ‘Rocky Mountain Christmas’ was Denver’s first Christmas album one of the featured tunes, ‘Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)’, had actually featured on his 1973 album ‘Farewell Andromeda’. As you'd expect the song painted a very bleak picture which was at odds with most of the rest of ‘Rocky Mountain Christmas’ which instead focused on happier Christmas matters. Another Denver original ‘Aspenglow’ had also appeared on another album, in this case it was 1970’s ‘Take Me To Tomorrow’, and it was dripping in melancholy but quite the beautiful acoustic ditty. The rest of ‘Rocky Mountain Christmas’ was made up of Denver’s softly lit renditions of old favourites such as ‘The Christmas Song’, ‘Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and ‘Silver Bells’. The album kept all of its secular numbers on Side A with the flipside consisting of carols such as ‘Away In A Manger’, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Coventry Carol’. Denver’s simple approach was a perfect fit for these old compositions and he added his own in ‘A Baby Just Like You’ which would reappear on his next Christmas album with some crazy friends of his adding their own personalities to the mix. His other new work for the album ‘Christmas For Cowboys’ was country leaning and proved a popular single when released used to promote the album. ‘Rocky Mountain Christmas’ was reissued in 1998 with 5 extra tracks including ‘Jingle Bells’ which had previously appeared on Denver’s ‘Whose Garden Was This’ and ‘White Christmas’ which didn’t make the cut for the 1975 release.
Whereas John Denver’s first Christmas album was a studied and quiet affair its follow up, 1979's ‘A Christmas Together’, couldn’t have been more different. This was largely thanks to Denver’s guest vocalists the Muppets. The album was a spinoff from a 1979 TV special called ‘John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together’ and featured 14 tracks of varying degrees of insanity. ‘Twelve Day of Christmas’ introduced us to the motley crew and while to the adult ear it is sometimes akin to nails down a chalkboard it must have been a scream for the little ones. One of the sweetest numbers takes place when Denver is joined by Rowlf The Dog to sing a tender little duet for ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’. Of course things get a lot more abrasive with Miss Piggy at the helm with the result that ‘Christmas Is Coming’ is a karate chop to the solar plexes. ‘A Christmas Together’ boasts a couple of bold moves such as Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem’s commendable cover of the Beach Boys ‘Little St. Nick’. Overall the album is mostly off the wall but in the context of the mayhem that is Christmas that is a definite plus.
Order was restored for Denver’s 1990 album ‘Christmas, Like a Lullaby’ with only the title track being written by the great man. Elsewhere he delicately made his way through a whole host of standards such ‘The First Noel’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Blue Christmas’. All were recorded with Denver’s distinctive delivery and while it may have sounded inoffensive there was something heart-warming and reassuring about them all the same. The album really caught fire, however, when Denver unearthed several little known Christmas songs like ‘The Children of Bethlehem’ and ‘Marvellous Toy’. Such a delight to hear his country tones on something so fresh and interesting.
The compilation ‘Christmas’ was released 2 years after Denver’s 1997 death in a plane crash and is an epic collection of his favourite Christmas songs over a 2-disc set. If you’d like the whole John Denver Christmas experience in one place then this 1999 compilation is the ideal solution.Author: Kevin