The Music Is You
There forever will be a place for the late Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., more commonly known as John Denver, in American culture and in the world’s musical canon. Even the Muppets loved John Denver. And finally, fifteen years after Denver’s untimely death, a slew of musicians have come together to compile The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver, released on ATO Records.
Most of the tracks come from some of the best acts to come out of the ’90s: Jim James’s My Morning Jacket (also ATO Records) has the pleasure of opening the album and covering perhaps the most well-known Denver song, “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” which might be the best cover on the whole album; Dinosaur Jr.’s Jay Mascis teams up with Sharon Van Etten on a grungy cover of “Prisoners”; and four-time consecutive Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter covers “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado.”
Somehow, Train got a spot on the bill and covers “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” but it’s one of the better Train songs they’ve ever recorded, even though it still sounds like something you’d hear in the waiting room of a doctor’s office. And 26-year-old Allen Stone (ATO Records) was nine years old when Denver died, but manages to cover a fresh rendition of “Rocky Mountain High.”
While Denver was a nerdy, soft, poetic musician and artist, he also freely spoke about his marital problems and alcohol abuse—which made him all the more relatable to the rest of us. The Music Is You is a long-awaited, sweet, and enjoyable tribute to one of America’s greatest folk artists.