In a career that has spanned twenty-five years, John Denver has earned international acclaim as a singer, songwriter, actor, and environmental activist. Songs like "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Annie''s Song" have entered the canon of universal anthems, but less than three decades ago, John Denver was a young man with little more than a fine voice, a guitar, and a dream. Growing up in a conservative military family, he was not expected to drop out of college and head to Los Angeles, where the music scene was flourishing. Nor was he expected to succeed.
In Take Me Home, John Denver chronicles the experiences that shaped his life, while unraveling the rich, inner journey of a shy Midwestern boy whose uneasy partnership with fame has been one of the defining forces of his first fifty years.
With candor and wit, John writes about his childhood, the experience of hitting L.A. as the Sixties roared into full swing, his first breaks, his years with the Mitchell Trio, his first songwriting success with "Leaving on a Jet Plane," and finally a career that made his a global household name.
He also explores his relationships with the women in his life - particularly his first wife, Annie Martell, and his second wife, Cassandra Delaney - as well as his parents, his children, his partners through his life, and his friends.
Honest, insightful and rich in anecdotes that only a natural-born storyteller could tell so well, Take Me Home is a highly charged and fascinating book from beginning to end. It''s like spending a couple of days with a good friend.
Singer-songwriter Denver, now 50, uses this self-indulgent autobiography to review his career and muse about the naivete that has characterized his personal and professional life. Writing with freelancer Tobier, he describes a troubled relationship with conservative, middle-class parents, the failure of his two marriages, deception by a manager and his admiration for people like Werner Erhard of est, Wernher von Braun of the National Space Institute and architect Buckminster Fuller, who he claims have inspired his efforts on behalf of the environment and other causes. In spite of his great success as a performer and his accomplishments as a social activist, Denver, who derives the book''s title from his song "Take Me Home, Country Roads," says he is still trying to find himself, and he wallows in a great deal of soul searching and simplistic philosophizing, none of which makes for engrossing reading. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Denver''s popularity peaked in the 1970s with such hits as "Rocky Mountain High" and "Annie''s Song." He was a far cry from the long-haired rock and disco acts of the time, and his clean-cut activism on behalf of the environment helped make him a popular TV performer. Here, Denver outlines his life, describing his birth into a military family, his conflicts with his stern father, and his burgeoning interest in music as a way to express his otherwise shy self. He goes on to talk about life on the road as a performer; his eventual involvement in self-help groups, such as EST; and his infidelities to his wife, Annie. But, just as Denver''s stage persona contrasted with those of John Phillips (Papa John, LJ 6/1/86) and David Crosby (Long Time Gone, LJ 11/15/88), so does his autobiography. Adultery and EST aside, this confessional''s weakness lies in a lack of openness. Denver doesn''t paint a pretty picture of himself, but behind the story he tells, there is no depth and no details. For celebrity mavens and those who want to know the "why" about a person, this makes for unsatisfying reading. Not recommended unless demand is great.
Rosellen Brewer, MOBAC Lib. System, Montery, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Boy, talk about looks being deceiving. The smiling, bespectacled singer-songwriter who gave us such good-time hits as "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and "Thank God I''m a Country Boy" is actually an awkward, insecure loner fighting the demons of his relationships with his father, his wife, and his agent, to name three. Denver, who was born Henry John Deutschendorf, an air force brat, had a Great Santini-like relationship with his father and apparently a very unhappy childhood, during which he saw injustices done to those weaker than himself but felt powerless to stop it. Although he does mention how he came to write some of his biggest hits, including "Leaving on a Jet Plane," "Annie''s Song," and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," fans will be disappointed that he doesn''t expand more on the songwriting. Denver also feels strongly about environmental issues, but entertainment buffs may feel a little slighted by just passing references to personalities like David Crosby and Harry Chapin and the virtual nonexistence of the singer''s biggest film role, namely, that opposite George Burns in
Oh God! In other words, forget about a music biz tell-all; Denver chooses, instead, to exorcise his psychological demons throughout, and although it''s kind of interesting, it''s far from far-out.