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About the song

John Denver’s “I Want to Live”. A song that embodies the very essence of the man himself: a celebration of life, a call to action for a better world, and a melody that lingers long after the last note fades. Released in 1977, it became the title track for Denver’s 12th studio album and a powerful anthem for a cause he held close to his heart – the fight against global hunger.

Denver was more than just a folksy singer with a charming smile and a knack for crafting catchy tunes. He was a passionate advocate for social justice and environmentalism. This humanitarian spirit found its voice in many of his songs, and “I Want to Live” stands as a prime example.

The song’s genesis can be traced back to Denver’s involvement with The Hunger Project, an organization he co-founded in 1977 alongside self-help guru Werner Erhard and agricultural scientist Robert W. Fuller. The Hunger Project’s mission was to empower communities around the world to end hunger through sustainable, self-reliant solutions.

“I Want to Live” became the theme song for this crucial initiative. Denver, ever the optimist, crafted a message that resonated with audiences. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of a world with stark contrasts: children raised in war-torn wastelands juxtaposed with those basking in the sun’s bounty. It’s a poignant reminder of the uneven distribution of resources and the very real struggle for survival faced by millions.

Yet, the song is not merely a lament. It’s a declaration. The powerful line, “There’s a fire in my soul, and I want to live”, is a rallying cry. It speaks to the indomitable human spirit, the yearning for a life filled with opportunity and the chance to thrive. Denver doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the challenges – “the hungry mouths to feed, the wars we wage in greed” – but ultimately, the song exudes hope. It’s a call to action, urging listeners to join the fight for a better tomorrow.

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Musically, “I Want to Live” is a classic John Denver composition. The gentle strum of the acoustic guitar lays the foundation, while the warm tones of the piano and the subtle strings add a layer of emotional depth. Denver’s signature baritone voice delivers the lyrics with sincerity and conviction. The melody itself is deceptively simple, yet undeniably catchy. It’s a testament to Denver’s songwriting prowess, crafting a song that is both easy to listen to and impactful in its message.

“I Want to Live” transcended its role as a theme song. It became a touchstone for a generation, a powerful reminder of our shared humanity and the responsibility we have to create a world where everyone can, indeed, live. It’s a song that continues to resonate today, a testament to John Denver’s enduring legacy as a singer, songwriter, and advocate for a better world.

Video

Lyrics

There are children raised in sorrow on a scorched and barren plain,
there are children raised beneath a golden sun.

There are children of the water, children of the sand,
and they cry out through the universe, their voices raised as one:
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.

Have you gazed out on the ocean, seen the breaching of a whale?
Have you watched the dolphins frolic in the foam?
Have you heard the song the humpback hears five hundred miles away?

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Telling tales of ancient history of passages and home?
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.

For the worker and the warrior, the lover and the liar, for the native and the wanderer in kind.
For the maker and the user, and the mother and her son.
I am looking for my family and all of you are mine.

We are standing all together, face to face and arm in arm.
We are standing on the threshold of a dream.
No more hunger, no more killing, no more wasting life away.

It is simply an idea and I know its time has come.
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be,

I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live.
I want to live, I want to grow, I want to see, I want to know,
I want to share what I can give, I want to be, I want to live, I want to live, I want to live.