John Denver: Rocky Mountain High Meaning
Song Released: 1972
Rocky Mountain High Lyrics
Comin' home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him
You might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door
When he first came to the mountains his life...
anonymous Dec 3rd, 12:01pm report
I believe many are misinterpreting the real meaning of this song. In order to develop an understanding, it helps to have seen the tribute movie to his life.
It is clear, during the late 60's, before his career had taken off . Denver lived in New Mexico, Arizona and Minnesota. Never really experiencing the beauty of the mountains. If you do the math, Denver was born in 1943. He signed his first record contract with RCA in 1969. Begins to make tons of money immediately that year. In 1970 he turns the age of 27 (refer to in the song). Buys a log cabin mountain chalet in 1971 in Aspen, CO and records Rocky Mountain High a year later in 1972.
In the song, he tells the story of two years prior (in 1970) when we turned 27 and first discovered the majestic beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Apparently, Denver was in awe of the mountains. So he felt like he was reborn.
Song quote: "He was born in the summer of his twenty-seventh year.....
Coming home to a place he'd never been before....
"You might say he was born again"
He is telling you in the song, he was coming home to a place he has never been before (the Rocky Mountains). But it felt like being home to him because of the peaceful majestic beauty.
Then his quote: "When he first came to the mountains his life was far away....
On the road and hangin' by a song...."
Its obvious he had his first taste of the Rocky Mountains during his travels doing gigs. But at the time, his life was far away from the mountains.
The rest of the song has to do with Denver's obsession with discovering the untapped beauty of mountains and nature conservation and preventing deforestation (as his life movie describes). Quote from the song: "Why they try to tear the mountains down....
To bring in a couple more.....
More people, more scars upon the land"....
A clear reference to his obsession of nature conservation and deforestation.
More song quotes: "He knows he'd be a poorer man...
If he never saw an eagle fly...
Again referring back to preventing deforestation and nature conservation. If we cut all the forests and scar the mountain, man will never see an eagle fly again.
Denver did many Wildlife tribute concerts and was an activist of preserving nature.
As for the middle part of the song: "He climbed cathedral mountains...
He saw silver clouds below...
He saw everything as far as you can see"....
Now he walks in quiet solitude...
The forests and the streams....
Seeking grace in every step he takes.....
His sight has turned inside....
Himself to try and understand....
The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake...
This is More reference and personal introspection for Denver discovering the unspoken beauty of his extended back yard in Aspen, CO -- Colorado Rocky Mountains.
Lastly, the song Rocky Mountain High, the "High" part is an obvious reference to being "high" from weed and enjoying nature with friends around a camp fire.
No need to thank me. Now you have all been enlightened. :-)
anonymous Dec 8th, 2019 12:17pm report
Given that the song was recorded in 1972, the reference to the "lost friend" is certainly not a reference to Christa McAuliffe (her real name). I was on the water in Santa Cruz the day that Denver's plane crashed into Monterey Bay off of Monterey. The plane did not break up in the upper atmosphere. It ran out of fuel. Denver stopped flying the plane to switch fuel tanks, and the plane crashed into the Bay.
I have always wondered about the "lost friend" lyric, but this is not the explanation.
anonymous Jun 11th, 2019 6:29pm report
“And they say that he got crazy once and tried to touch the sun. He lost a friend but kept a memory...”
John Denver REALLY wanted to travel into space, was even in consideration by NASA before they picked Kristy McCullough (teacher in space) instead to fly on Challenger.
He was prone to depression and erratic behavior. I believe he actually lived out the lyrics of his most famous song and “tried to tough the sun” in his experimental aircraft. The plane broke up in the upper atmosphere, killing Denver. We “lost a friend, but kept a memory”
anonymous Jul 28th, 2018 7:58pm report
Born again moment(baptized)
anonymous Sep 3rd, 2014 9:38pm report
I don't know the exact meaning but I truly wished that I did. This is a very good song. But as it relates To John's personal beliefs about God -- I hope that He understood that God the one and true God "Listens to the Whispers of our hearts".
kooljohn176 Feb 28th, 2014 2:37pm report
A powerful refreshing song of hope in a friends memory, after the shattering of the mind of the illussions of reality you thought were real by coming out of the dark nights of the soul from depression, schizophrenia or maybe even phycosis to see and experience the world in a different light in coming home to a place you never been before, not only in nature of the Rocky Mountain High, but also coming together in mind,body and soul, like being born again in GOD i can only guess to find your way back.
anonymous Jan 1st, 2014 1:10pm report
This is Denver's hymn to God. It is his born again moment and the beauty one finds in nature with the change of heart. Denver was pantheistic. The casual replies is nature speaking but only to those who pay attention and reverence to nature. Denver's gift is the ability to put such mystical experiences into language.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Apr 22nd, 2011 4:03pm report
He was talking about a shooting star he saw in Colorado.
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