John Denver - I Guess He'd Rather Be In Colorado (from The Wildlife Concert) - YouTube

About the song:

John Denver’s “I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado”, a folksy gem nestled within the 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises. This song, while seemingly simple on the surface, offers a poignant glimpse into the yearning for wide-open spaces and a simpler life, a sentiment that resonated deeply with audiences during a period of social and cultural upheaval in the early 1970s.

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Denver, a champion of the American West throughout his career, wasn’t born in Colorado, but his affinity for the state’s majestic landscapes and laid-back spirit is undeniable. Poems, Prayers & Promises marked a turning point for the singer-songwriter, establishing him as a household name and launching a string of hits that would solidify his place as a folk icon. This album also included his signature song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, another ode to the beauty of the American countryside.

“I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado” stands out for its gentle melancholy. The protagonist, a man trapped in the urban jungle, longs for the tranquility of the Colorado Rockies. The lyrics paint a vivid picture: a pearly sky after a cleansing rain, a solitary figure walking and talking to the stars, the melancholic hum of a banjo played under the fading moonlight. These contrasting images – the vastness of Colorado’s natural beauty versus the claustrophobic confinement of the city – create a powerful tension that resonates with anyone who has ever dreamt of escaping the daily grind.

The song’s composition is deceptively simple. It relies heavily on a recurring acoustic guitar figure and Denver’s signature warm vocals. The use of a banjo adds a touch of rustic charm, further emphasizing the protagonist’s yearning for a simpler life. The lyrics, though seemingly straightforward, are rich with symbolism. “The stars he makes and asking them for bus fare” is a particularly evocative line, suggesting a man both yearning for escape and clinging to a touch of whimsy in the face of his circumstances.

Read more:  John Denver – On the Wings of a Dream

“I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado” may not be one of Denver’s most commercially successful songs, but it holds a special place in the hearts of many fans. It’s a quiet reminder of the universal human desire for connection with nature and a simpler way of life. It’s a song that continues to resonate, a testament to Denver’s ability to capture the beauty of the natural world and the complexities of the human spirit.

Video:

Lyrics:

“I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado”

I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.
He’d rather spend his time out where the sky looks like a pearl after the rain.

Once again I see him walking, once again I hear him talking
to the stars he makes and asking them the bus fare.I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.
He’d rather play his banjo in the morning when the moon is scarcely gone.

In the dawn the subway’s coming, in the dawn I hear him humming
some old song he wrote of love in Boulder Canyon. I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.

I guess he’d rather work out where the only thing you earn is what you spend.
In the end up in his office, in the end a quiet cough is all he has to show,
he lives in New York City. I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.