Rocky Mountain High is said to be inspired by John Denver‘s move to Aspen, Colorado. Denver is said to love the state and the beautiful mountains there.
He began writing the song during the Perseid Meteor Shower which occurs each August.
Denver stated in interviews that the inspiration quickly struck him while camping with friends. All of a sudden there was a burst of shooting starts among the tree line.
The song took him nine months to complete.
In Denver’s autobiography, he wrote: “I remember, almost to the moment, when that song started to take shape in my head. We were working on the next album and it was to be called Mother Nature’s Son, after the Beatles song, which I’d included. It was set for release in September. In mid-August, Annie and I and some friends went up to Williams Lake to watch the first Perseid meteor showers. Imagine a moonless night in the Rockies in the dead of summer and you have it. I had insisted to everybody that it was going to be a glorious display. Spectacular, in fact…The shadow of the starlight blew me away…It got bigger and bigger until the tail stretched out all the way across the sky and burned itself out. Everybody was awake, and it was raining fire in the sky…I worked on the song – and the song worked on me – for a good couple of weeks. When I realized what I had – another anthem, maybe; a true expression of one’s self, maybe – we changed the sequencing of the album we’d just completed, and then we changed the album title.”
On his BBC radio program The John Denver Show, he set the stage for this song by introducing it with this story: “You and I have just broken out of a huge stand of Douglas fir. The trees tower hundreds of feet above us. We’ve come out of the solemn, cathedral-like darkness of the trees, into the bright, early morning sunshine of a grassy slope. The grass is wet and soft with morning dew beneath our feet. The air is crisp, so crisp it sends little needles of joyful pain through the membranes of your nose. The air is so clear, it seems to purify your lungs. On both sides, above and beyond, stretch the awesome Rockies, their great, snow-capped peaks jutting out of the early morning mist. This is living. This is what man was created for: to live and work and continue what these mountains represent. This is true freedom. Being part of nature and drawing from it, and returning back to it.”
On April 10, 2017, the song reached certified Gold status.
The members of the Western Writers of America voted the song as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all times.
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com