2 Songs About Something (#5): Nature

1. "The Eagle and the Hawk" by John Denver

At the 1975 CMA ceremony Charlie Rich was supposed to announce the Entertainer of the Year Award. Instead of reading the name of the winner, John Denver, Charlie pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit fire to the envelope.

What a dick move.

John Denver has been unjustly maligned over the years, and it is really a sad shame. Denver's music was obviously from the heart, and spoke to some inner longings deep within all of us - for the simple life, for a less materialistic life, for the pleasures of nature. I think the artsy fartsy types hated it because it often happened to be wholesome (eegad!). At least Charlie Rich had an excuse - he was drunk off his ass.

Denver could be wholesome as in "This Old Guitar", but he was also brilliant at capturing the majesty of nature. "The Eagle and the Hawk" is perhaps his best example at doing just that.

John Denver - The Eagle and the Hawk .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

2. "Seven Island Suite" by Gordon Lightfoot

In "Rocky Mountain High", Denver proclaims his regret at man's destruction of nature, and his delight at the joy which nature can bring.

And the Colorado rocky mountain high
I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky
I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly
Rocky mountain high

Do you remember that anti-pollution ad with Chief Iron Eyes Cody? I think it was so effective because it was so true - deep down we know what we are doing is not right.

This is a blog and not a public service announcement, so I'll refrain from pontificating. However, I will say that Gordon Lightfoot touches the subject of man's disconnect with nature in "Seven Island Suite" better than any song ever written. Jethro Tull's entire Into the Woods LP doesn't compare to one stanza of Lightfoot's masterpiece.

Living high in the city, guess you think it's a pretty good way
You get to learn but when you get burned you got nothing to say
You seem to think because you got chicken to go you're in luck
Fortune will not find you in your mansion or your truck
Brothers will desert you when you're down and shit out of luck

Laugh at Lightfoot all you want for his "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", Gordon in his Sundown days kicked some ass. In "Seven Island Suite" he rejects all the hollow frills that life in the city has to offer. But what's the alternative to modern day materialism? Lightfoot has the solution:

It's time you tried living on the high side of the bay, you need a rest
Any woman or a man with a wish to fade away could be so blessed

He's not talking about a trip to the Hamptons. It sounds cliche, but he's talking about a trip inside yourself - and the only way your going to find yourself is by getting out of the fast lane, and taking a stroll amongst the trees....


  1. I agree with you. I always liked John Denver. Part of that had to do with him acting opposite George Burns. But I did really like his music. I did feel it spoke to a love of nature. Humanity should love and respect nature. I remember Gordon Lightfoot. Those commercials did always make me feel sad because I saw all the trash, etc. around my own area.

  2. I actually always liked The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald :S

    John Denver was a good singer and song writer and guitar player was well. Like Linda Rondstat he was shut out by the die hard Nashville crowd and was never considered "true" country.

    I thought he got a little sappy and even weird at times (like doing Sesame Street, but hell, Alice Cooper did Hollywood Squares, so go figure...)

  3. I am not a retro scholar but I may have erred when i said Sesame Street. I now think it was the Muppets he appeared on. I in case it seemed odd, but for Denver it sort of worked. I don't think it would for Robert Plant.

  4. king of cool- I've never been a big fan of the Oh, God! films, but I feel Denver's music has been unjustly disparaged over the years. Wholesomeness is often despised in the entertainment community - Norman Rockwell never felt a part of the art community, even though he was among the most talented and successful.

    willy- If Denver's music was condemned for not being country, what does the Nashville crowd think of this new country music which has more in common with Justin Timberlake than Hank Williams?

  5. I use to date a guy in the late 70's who was totally into Denver. I tried, I really did, try to like his music, but just couldn't. He was a big turn off to me back then. I liked the "macho looking guys with the pornstaches.

  6. Cody was actually Latino, and had made a career for himself playing Native Americans in movies and on TV.