John Denver

Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

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John Denver wasn't merely hot during the mid-'70s; he was omnipresent on radio, TV, and on-stage for anyone who'd have him. Certainly, few artists enjoyed more than one greatest-hits collection -- even if critics derided him as a granola-munching, tree-hugging folky who perennially smiled through life's hardships. But the reality of Denver's music is more complicated; behind the lush orchestration and gentle fingerpicking lies a more somber, contemplative side. In this respect, "Fly Away"'s lament about city pressures could be considered his answer to the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby." "Like a Sad Song" and "I'm Sorry" apologize to forsaken lovers. "Looking for Space" takes a similar tack, although coupled with a yearning to explore the world outside yourself -- a theme that likely struck a chord in many listeners. Of course, Denver's ecological commitment is never far away in "Welcome to My Morning (Farewell Andromeda)" and "Calypso," his salute to the late French undersea explorer Jacques Costeau. "Annie's Song" goes further by explicitly linking nature and sensuality, while "Back Home Again" and "Grandma's Feather Bed" celebrate the pleasures of home and hearth. Anyone who's ever expressed themselves could relate to "This Old Guitar," on which Denver casts a wistful yet unsparing look at how the instrument influenced his life. As a snapshot of Denver's best-loved hits, this collection surely does the job.

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