Where the Columbines Get High

Those of us from the Hunter Thompson generation are all in favor of making John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” the state song. But it might be illegal to sing it in a drug-free school zone.The  Denver Post and Aspen Daily News are reporting that State Sen. Bob Hagedorn, D-Aurora, wants to make Denver’s 1972 hit the official state song.

“You hear a few bars of John Denver and you recognize it,” Democratic state Sen. Bob Hagedorn told the Aspen Daily News in today’s editions.

The current state song is “Where the Columbines Grow.” “That’s not a song that a lot of Coloradans know or can hum the lyrics to,” said Hagedorn, who represents the Denver suburb of Aurora.

Hagedorn wants to introduce legislation this month that would make “Rocky Mountain High” an official state song without displacing “Where the Columbines Grow.” He said most of the copyright arrangements have been made and now he is trying to line up support in the state Senate and House.

It’s certainly true that Denver’s tune is instantly recognizable, but the lyrics offer some interesting political tradeoffs. The next to last line is:

I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky. 
Friends around the camp fire and everybody’s high….

High on what, Denver doesn’t say. Life, probably.

On the economic front, the song offers little encouragement for those concerned about the falling metro housing market:

Now his life is full of wonder,
but his heart still knows some fear, 
of the simple things he cannot comprehend. 
Why they try to tear the mountains down
to bring in a couple more. 
More people, more scars upon the land.

You don’t have these controversies with the current state song. Quick now, everyone stand, place hands over hearts, and hum a few bars:

Tis the land where the columbines grow,
Overlooking the plains far below,
While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
Softly sings where the columbines grow.

They don’t write ’em like that anymore.

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Dan Whipple

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