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‘Rocky Mountain High’ by John Denver Turns 50

John Denver
Keith Jacobson
In this July 28, 1983, file photo, singer John Denver strums his guitar as he performs during an outdoor concert on the Boston Common, in Boston, Mass.

John Denver wrote about “a clear blue mountain lake” and the “quiet solitude of the forests and the streams” 50 years ago when he penned the Colorado anthem ‘Rocky Mountain High’ not long after moving to the state.

Tonight, the Colorado Symphony is commemorating the hit tune with a special performance.

In 2007, Colorado lawmakers voted to designate ‘Rocky Mountain High’ as one of two official state songs. The lyrics are a love letter from John Denver, celebrating Colorado’s natural beauty.

“But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high. I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky. The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby,” Denver sang.

The singer-songwriter lived in Aspen for much of his life. In the 70s, he was named Colorado’s poet laureate. In 1997, Denver died when his small aircraft crashed in California.

The Colorado Symphony event at Boettcher Concert Hall will feature archival video footage of Denver performing Rocky Mountain High along with live appearances by his former bandmates.

As KUNC's mental health reporter, I seek to create a sense of urgency and understanding around issues related to mental illness, access to care and happiness in Northern Colorado and our mountain communities.