Get Out of Denver

Talk about terrifying: The front page of the March 13 Denver Post was dominated by the story of how John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" became Colorado's second state song. Then, to compound the trauma, KHOW's Peter Boyles spent most of his morning-drive show discussing the ditty and scoffing at the suggestion that Denver was celebrating altitude, not weed.

Of course, Denver's intended definition of "high" is less significant in this context than the ear-wrecking nature of the recording itself, which encapsulates everything that was worst about 1970s pop music in one convenient package. The ditty is as puerile as it is gag-inducing.

Legislatures elsewhere have toyed with similar measures. Remember that New Jersey once nearly named Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" as "the unofficial theme of our State's youth," even though the track's protagonists seem to want nothing more than to get the hell out of New Jersey. (The wacky details are recounted here.) But leave it to Colorado to take the leap from bad idea to stupid law.

Something good could still come out of this debacle, though. No one ever plays the other state song, "Where the Columbines Grow." If the same thing happens with "Rocky Mountain High," Colorado will be a better place. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts