About the song

John Denver’s Foxfire Suite. Now that’s a piece that evokes a tapestry of imagery and emotion. Denver, a true champion of the American soundscape, wove tales of nature, resilience, and the enduring spirit in his music. Foxfire Suite is no exception, taking us on a captivating journey through the heart of the Carolinas.

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Released in 1991 on his album Different Directions, the suite isn’t your typical single song. It’s a collection of interconnected movements, a miniature musical odyssey that unfolds like a story. Denver himself described it as “a tone poem about the history of the Appalachian people.”

The title itself holds a fascinating piece of history. Foxfire refers to a bioluminescent fungus that emits a soft, ethereal glow. Often found in damp, wooded areas, it was a natural source of light for settlers in the Appalachian Mountains. The image of this gentle illumination, a beacon in the wilderness, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the suite.

As the opening notes of Foxfire Suite wash over you, a sense of anticipation builds. The gentle strumming of the guitar and the melancholic melody on the flute paint a picture of a land both beautiful and untamed. Denver’s warm baritone then takes center stage, singing of the Carolinas, a place steeped in history and natural wonders.

The suite progresses through distinct movements, each adding a brushstroke to the overall picture. We hear tales of the early settlers who braved a long and arduous journey to reach this new land, their courage fueled by a yearning for a better life. The music swells with a sense of determination as Denver sings of “a hundred years ago” and “far across the water.”

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Foxfire Suite doesn’t shy away from the challenges these pioneers faced. The raw power of nature is depicted with crashing cymbals and dramatic shifts in tempo, reflecting the harsh realities of carving a life out of the wilderness. Yet, there’s an underlying current of hope that permeates the music. The resilience of the human spirit shines through, a testament to the enduring strength of those who built a home in this rugged landscape.

As the suite progresses, we get glimpses into the lives of these Appalachian people. We hear the sounds of a fiddle, a staple of mountain music, and the gentle swaying rhythm that evokes images of community gatherings and shared stories. The music becomes lighter, reflecting the simple joys and traditions that sustained these communities.

The final movement brings a sense of closure and reflection. The music softens, leaving us with a lingering sense of awe for the land and its people. The Foxfire Suite isn’t just a song; it’s a historical narrative, a celebration of human spirit, and a love letter to the enduring beauty of the Carolinas.

Video

Lyrics

Blue river blues
I’d rather be outside
Here I am inside
Watching it rain
Blue river blues

I’d rather be somewhere
Here I am nowhere
Watching it rain
Some people like that downhill stuff

They like it fast and breezy
Some people walk on the other side
They like it slow and easy

Some people run on a mountain trail
Some like it wild and rough
Some like to fly and some like to sail
Some like the downhill stuff

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There’s work in what we practice
Work in the things we say
Sometime we work just to try to make a living
Or we’re working just to make it pay

Sometimes we’re trying to work our will
But that won’t work anyway
I only know that I’m working still
Just to get another chance to play

Some people run on a mountain trail
Some like it wild and rough
Some like to fly and some like to sail
Some like the downhill stuff

Keep a moving in a forward direction
Like a river rolling down to the sea
If you want to make different selection
Honey let yourself go with gravity
Oh everybody’s looking for heaven

Everybody’s looking for hope
Everybody looking for higher and higher
But nobody wants to be looking alone
Everybody’s trying to get down to it
Everybody’s trying to sing

Whatever it is we’re all gonna do it
But whatever we do
We gotta do our own thing
Some people like that downhill stuff
They like it fast and breezy

Some people walk on the other side
They like it slow and easy
Some people run on a mountain trail
Some like it wild and rough
Some like to fly and some like to sail
Some like the downhill stuff