Archive for April 16th, 2012
I grew up with John Denver’s beautiful, sweet, sincere voice ringing out of my parent’s stereo speaker. His music is an enormous part of my life. Fortunately, a few of his songs have been made into Singable Picture Books and I can share the songs in Sing Books with Emily gatherings!
For Baby (For Bobbie)
Words and Music by John Denver
Adapted and Illustrated by Janeen Mason
This book includes printed music, pages of information about the illustrations, and a CD with John Denver’s recording.
Grandma’s Feather Bed (John Denver’s)
Words and Music by Jim Connor
Adapted and Illustrated by Christopher Canyon
The Littlest Cowboy’s Christmas
Story by Michael Chandler
Illustrated by Terry Jacobsen
This book includes a CD of John Denver singing “Silent Night“
Not Singable, but this book tells the story of a father and son’s chance Christmas Eve spent with John Denver and his young son.
The story of how this book came to be is told in the following link:
Sunshine on My Shoulders
Words by John Denver
Music by John Denver, Mike Taylor & Dick Kniss
Illustrated by Christopher Canyon
Take Me Home, Country Roads
Words and Music by John Denver, Taffy Nivert and Bill Danoff
Words Adapted by Christopher Canyon
Illustrated by Christopher Canyon
John Denver didn’t write this song, but he sings a beautiful version of it on The Muppet Show:
Inch by Inch (The Garden Song)
Words and Music by David Mallett
Illustrated by Ora Eitan
On John Denver’s Muppet Christmas Special, they sing a beautiful version of Silent Night, with a prologue story of how the song came to be written, wonderful:
Words by Joseph Mohr
Music by Franz Gruber
Illustrated by Will Moses
From the same John Denver Christmas Special with the Muppets, they sing a fun/funny version of “Twelve Days of Christmas“
Twelve Days of Christmas
Traditional Words and Tune
Illustrated by Robert Broomfield
(“Twelve Days of Christmas,” Illustrated by Robert Broomfield, is featured in the Scholastic Video Collection)
I was searching around for a YouTube of John Denver singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” one of my favorite Singable Picture Books, and ran across this YouTube of Mr. Denver performing the song on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in 1974:
Thanks for the memory, John and Johnny. My mother took in Johnny Carson every night like most people take in food and water. She couldn’t sleep without watching Johnny first!
And, 1974! I was 6 then and just becoming aware of myself as a music lover. There’s no doubt my love for John Denver’s voice started ’round then, too, as his records frequently spun on my parent’s turntable.
John Denver has some wonderful things to say about singing at the end of this video clip. He’s talking to Johnny Carson and George Segal, referring to a performance Mr. Segal must have done earlier in the show. Johnny Carson had just ribbed George Segal about playing guitar, and John Denver chimes in saying,
“Listen, I love the way George sings. I mean, you were, you were really right what you said [George], singing is…wonderful. You can get high on singing. And, man, everybody can sing. You know even whales can sing? That’s the truth…And regardless of whether anyone sings good or not, to get that kind of feeling and that kind of enthusiasm that you [George] have in your music, everybody can do that.”
This is a lovely, generous thought from one performer to another. And especially from John Denver, who had a beautiful voice, to George Segal, in praise of George’s efforts sharing humor in song. He’s saying the voice isn’t so much what matters, it’s the SHARING and the HUMOR and the EXPRESSION that matters. And that singing is part our NATURE…and not just our own, but singing is in the nature of most living creatures…including whales.
This is a message that I hope to convey through “Sing Books with Emily,” that music is a wonderful way to share a moment with a loved one. And that music awakens our souls like nothing else can. I take Mr. Denver’s use of the word “high” (in both his quote and in the lyrics of “Sunshine on my Shoulders“) to mean “Spiritually Uplifting.” Singing is Spiritually Uplifting!
And, A child will not usually judge you on your voice. A child will just be glad to have you there, sharing a magical, spiritually uplifting, moment in song.
Friends of John Denver blog:
John Denver’s exhibit in the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame:
Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret
John Denver on Singing (The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, 1974)
A Dedication to My Dad: