Like his music and lyrics, this book is open and honest, true to the man who never kept secrets of his heart. View 1 comment. Oct 28, TPK rated it liked it. It probably has something to do with being exposed to his music during my formative years. Even in the '80s when it was no longer cool to admit that one liked John Denver, I listened to certain songs of his again and again, probably until my mom and siblings demanded that I stop.
Reading autobiographies of artists you admire is always an exercise fraught with peril -- not just because some artists are not particularly good authors Denver lists Arthur OK, I'll admit it: I'm a big John Denver fan. Reading autobiographies of artists you admire is always an exercise fraught with peril -- not just because some artists are not particularly good authors Denver lists Arthur Tobier as a co-writer on this book, and it takes a few chapters before the two manage to settle on a writing style that feels like Denver's authentic voice , but because some artists are not particularly good people.
Ernest Hemingway, call your office. If you want to be swiftly disabused of the notion that someone you admire is perfect, or at least laudable, there's often no better or faster way to do it than to read an honest, no-holds-barred memoir. Denver's version of his life story is curious -- he doesn't shy away from topics others might have censored, such as his casual drug use, his DUIs, his inability to share his emotions meaningfully with the people he loved most, and his treatment of his first wife which swung between frequent neglect and infidelity, harsh verbal fighting and, at least at the end of their marriage, outright physical abuse -- but while he owns up to these and other failings, he seems not to have learned much from the experiences.
He still seems puzzled that things turned out as they did, almost as though he expected the people around him to accept his faults and failings while not being able to do the same for them. It is this attitude, more than the revelations of his imperfections, that I found most frustrating about reading this book. Admission of a personal failing is a good first step, but it's meant to lead to corrective action, not just an oh-well-this-is-how-I-am attitude. In the words of a BoJack Horseman character, "You need to be better. At first we ask, "Why did they do that? Why couldn't they have learned something?
Can I learn something from this person's life that will improve my own? And we all need to be better. Nov 01, Steve rated it it was ok. That brings up a rabbit trail. The older of two sons in a military family, he moved around constantly while his Air Force pilot-father took various duty assignments. Growing up, that made it difficult for Denver to make friends, to put down roots.
Compounding that issue for the singer and songwriter was a nearly life-long emotional detachment from his dad. Although that relationship was apparently reconciled somewhat once Denver shared a common interest with his father in flying. The later was a real turn-off to me personally. Over the course of his career, he had become an accomplished private pilot with more than 2, hours on various single- and multi-engine aircraft, with both an instrument and a Lear Jet rating. On October 12, , however, he was flying an aircraft with which he was relatively unfamiliar, and with which he had previously experienced control problems, according to a later investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
At approximately pm local time, after a smooth takeoff from a Pacific Grove airfield and under ideal flying conditions, Denver apparently lost control of his Long-EZ aircraft several hundred feet over Monterey Bay, leading to the fatal crash. Don Phillips, a Washington Post staff writer, on January 27, reported the following: According to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the crash was the culmination of a series of small mistakes.
But the key factor seems to have been the decision by the plane's builder to place a fuel valve switch in a hard-to-get-at location behind the pilot. Denver's final act apparently was to reach behind his left shoulder to switch the plane's engine from one fuel tank to another. The uncomfortable stretch caused his right foot to press against the right rudder, according to a final board report.
The aircraft -- a single-engine Long-EZ -- pitched up, rolled to the right and slammed into the ocean. George Petterson, the board's investigator-in-charge for the Denver crash, appeared in a board video showing what it would be like to turn the fuel switch in the cramped cockpit. His pretzel-like pose, coupled with the involuntary movement of his right foot, proved persuasive to the five-member board. The plane had no flight data or voice recorder, so investigators had to piece together their account of the plane's final minutes.
Denver's aircraft was the only Long-EZ ever built with the fuel valve in that location. All 1, of the others -- based on a design by experimental guru Burt Rutan -- have the switch on the console directly between the pilot's legs. Texan Adrian Davis, who built the plane from the Rutan plans, told investigators he put the switch behind the pilot because he did not want to have fuel lines running into the cockpit, especially down where they might rupture in a belly landing.
In truth, investigators said, Rutan had accounted for that possibility by strengthening the fuselage below the fuel switch. Some of the links in the accident chain were not Denver's fault. One was his stature: He had to have a cushion behind his back to allow him to reach the rudder pedals. This also meant he had to stretch farther to reach the fuel switch. The plane also was new to Denver; he had just bought it from its second owner. And investigators believe he was unaware that he was so low on fuel.
Witnesses reported the engine sputtered as he climbed away from one of his practice landings. Denver likely made his final stretch in an effort to switch to the right tank, which had fuel remaining. Experimental and amateur-built aircraft like the Long-EZ are not subject to all the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration. The safety board recommended that the FAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association and insurers cooperate to "strongly encourage" pilots of new experimental planes to undergo formal training, which is not now required.
The board also recommended better markings: The plane that Denver flew did not even have a marking on the fuel selector switch to indicate in which position the engine was drawing from the left tank, which from the right tank, and which shut the fuel lines altogether. Other reports I read indicated that Denver knew he was low on fuel but planned to fly for only about an hour. As the wreck badly disfigured Denver's head and body, making identification by dental records impossible, records of his fingerprints taken from his arrests for intoxicated driving were used to confirm that the fallen pilot was indeed the singer.
In fact, he was not supposed to be flying because of prior DUI convictions. According to wire reports, though, it had been suspended because Denver had twice been arrested on drunk-driving charges. Before the accident, the FAA had learned of his failure to abstain entirely from alcohol subsequent to drunken driving arrests, and since his medical certification was conditional on this, a determination was made that due to his drinking problem, he was not qualified for any class of medical certification at the time.
At least a third-class medical certification was required to exercise the privileges of his pilot certificate.
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However, there was no trace of alcohol or any other drug in Denver's body at autopsy. John Denver.
A very tragic figure in American entertainment indeed. One wonders what might have been had he lived all of his too-short life as Henry John Deutschendorf, Junior. View all 4 comments. Apr 26, Laura rated it it was amazing.
Take Me Home: The Music of John Denver
Being a John Denver fan for many years I knew I would enjoy this book. What I really appreciated was his honesty - and I really didn't expect anything less from him. I feel he really opened up in this book and I imagine it may have been a cathartic experience for him to write it. I now have a deeper appreciation of his music and his talent. And by the end of the book the reader has a deeper understanding of who Henry John Deutchendorff hope I spelled that right was as well as John Denver.
This is a must read for any Denver fan. Mar 08, Melodie rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-pre I read this when it first came out.
John did a signing here in Denver at the Tattered Cover and there was a huge crowd for it. I really enjoyed the book as he didn't try to whitewash his many shortcomings. I got hold of an audio version shortly after he passed away and liked it even more since he was the reader. If you were a Denver fan this book would probably interest you. Jul 11, Donna rated it it was ok. My opinion of John Denver changed after reading his words. I would have rather kept my illusions.
Oct 25, Amanda Baker rated it liked it. Rating this book is kind of hard! Being from West Virginia and the ubiquity of Country Roads is also a factor, but I think my folks were fans long before they moved to WV in the late 80s. Hearing his voice makes me feel simultaneously at home, longing for Rating this book is kind of hard! His dad was a decorated Air Force pilot so he spent his childhood living all over the place - an experience that certainly contributed to his songwriting style. A recipe for disaster! He dropped out of college to start his music career in the late 60s, right at the time that rock n roll was taking off, so he followed the folkies to carve out a different niche for himself.
Peter, Paul and Mary covered it, and that set his career off in the direction it took. He writes of how his success came to be, the places his touring took him, the spiritual experiences he sought along the way through all manner of healers, shamans, and dieticians, and about starting an environmental foundation. He also compares himself to Columbus in talking about the nature documentary he did in Alaska, and was maybe more right about that than he realized.
I will not detail here but, yikes. He was in kind of an alcoholic tailspin at the time he wrote this book, it seems, and was still when he died in the plane crash not much later.
If he had lived and gotten sober, he may have had the chance to reckon with it all better John Denver leaves behind a legacy of beautiful music, the writing of which was informed by many years of internal and external turmoil. Jul 22, Dindy rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , kindle. Actually, to say I am a fan trivializes my feelings about him. His music has been a huge part of my life, and through it, I've developed my values, my love of the earth and its creatures, and my hope and optimism for the future.
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Even though he has been dead for ten years now, I can still be moved to tears when I hear "Poems and Prayers and Promises," "The Eagle and the Hawk," or "I Want to Live" or any of his other emotion-laden songs, all of which seemed to speak directly to me. I had put off reading his autobiography for a long time because I wasn't ready to learn that one of my idols was human.
I knew he'd had problems with alcoholism, but I didn't want to know the sordid details.