I remember 8 tracks.
My brother had one in his first car.
And my grandmother had one in her brown Plymouth station wagon with fake wood grain (verrrrry classy).
We had a small collection. One 8 track was John Denver’s “Greatest Hits.”
I was young. Innocent. This music was “acceptable.” It wasn’t Zepplin, it wasn’t Merle Haggard (I later learned to appreciate both). We could “understand the lyrics.”
Denver might have been a hippie, but he wasn’t like the other hippies I knew. He didn’t appear to be strung out. He shaved most of the time. His hair was long, but combed. He wore clean clothes. He looked like he wasn’t about to rip someone’s head off. He didn’t spew angst. I bet he bathed frequently, if not often.
He made Christmas specials. He made a movie with god (an incredibly awful movie).
Sure, later I heard that he was flaky. He took pot shots at people on his property (gee thanks, Doug, for shattering the image!). Rocky Mountain High was about … pot? No! It’s not like he was singing about the warm smell of colitas and being trapped in cocaine addiction. And what about that “Leavin on a Jet Plane?” My sister used to sing that, and play guitar, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even our dog cried. (How ironic that he died flying — or, crashing — his experimental plane.) I’ve never visited West Virginia, but I’ve often thought about it. Mountain Mama and all that.
John Denver is corny. His music was simple. Sure, he was writing about getting high.
But I present to you the lyrics of something called “Lost without u” by something called Robin Thicke, according to this place, as an example of the devolution of music.
Tell me how u love me more
And how u think I’m sexy baby
That u don’t want nobody else
U don’t want this guy u don’t want that guy u wanna
Touch yourself when u see me
Tell me how u love my body
And how I make u feel baby
I would list the lyrics to Billboard’s top 100 No. 1 song, by that Justin punk, but I would get so much porn spam Larry Flynt would blush.
Anyway, when Colorado voted to make Rocky Mountain High its second state song, I decided to buy Greatest Hits for our road trip this week. We’ll be corny, and simple, and it’ll feel like 1973 again. Maybe I can find some fake-wood panels to stick on the Passat.