John Denver’s Greatest Hits

Released November 1973
Recorded 1969-1973
Genre Folk, Country, Pop
Label RCA
Producer Milton Okun

John Denver’s Greatest Hits was American singer-songwriter John Denver’s first compilation album, released in late 1973 for the holiday shopping season. A version known as The Best of John Denver with the same track listing was released in some countries.

The collection included material from his earlier days as a songwriter (going back to 1965 on “For Bobbie”) to his later hit “Rocky Mountain High”. Indeed, many of these tracks were not hits per se, but as Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for Allmusic, “these were the songs that defined him.”

Moreover, Greatest Hits is important historically because it contained new, revisionist recordings of several songs. Notable new versions included “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, “Starwood in Aspen”, “Follow Me”, “Rhymes and Reasons”, “The Eagle and the Hawk”, “Sunshine On My Shoulders” and “Poems, Prayers, and Promises”.

Denver explained this himself in the liner notes by saying that he had picked the numbers most requested in his concerts, but that “I felt that some of these songs had grown a bit, that I am singing better than I was four or five years ago, and that I would like to treat some of the songs a little differently than I had in the original recordings.”

After its release these versions were used for airplay despite differing in subtle but important ways from the original versions; generally, they were more polished, featured a more mature-sounding Denver, included strings, and were extended somewhat.

Within a few months of its release, Greatest Hits climbed to the top of the Billboard 200 pop albums chart, went platinum, and was one of the first albums worldwide to sell over 10 million copies. Overall it is easily the best-selling album of his career in the United States, being certified 9-times platinum by the RIAA.

Track listing

All tracks written by Denver, unless otherwise indicated.

Side A

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” (Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, Denver) – 3:08
“Follow Me” – 2:56 *
“Starwood in Aspen” – 3:10 *
“For Baby (For Bobbie)” – 2:58
“Rhymes and Reasons” – 3:11 *
“Leaving on a Jet Plane” – 4:00 *

Side B

“The Eagle and the Hawk” (Denver, Mike Taylor) – 2:10 *
“Sunshine on My Shoulders” (Denver, Dick Kniss, Mike Taylor) – 5:10 *†
“Goodbye Again” – 3:36
“Poems, Prayers and Promises” – 4:34 *
“Rocky Mountain High” (Denver, Mike Taylor) – 4:43

* New versions recorded especially for this project; generally, compilations today prefer the original versions.
† The version of “Sunshine On My Shoulders” included here is the album version, featuring overdubbed strings.


For the newly recorded tracks:

John Denver – vocals, acoustic guitar
Eric Weissberg – guitars, banjo
Dick Kniss – bass
Frank Owens – piano
Herb Lovelle – drums
Gary Chester – percussion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia