About the song

John Denver’s “Isabel”. Now that’s a song that takes you back, doesn’t it? It wouldn’t be a proper folk revival without a touch of mystery, a hint of the unknown, and Denver delivers that in spades with this tune.

Released in 1970 on his album “Take Me To Tomorrow”, “Isabel” stands out for its evocative imagery and a touch of yearning that’s characteristic of Denver’s best work.

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One of the things that strikes you immediately about “Isabel” is its atmosphere. Denver paints a picture with his words, and here we find ourselves in a “room of many shadows”. Is it a literal room, or perhaps a metaphor for a hidden corner of someone’s heart? The ambiguity adds to the intrigue.

Then there’s Isabel herself. We don’t get a lot of details about her, but the glimpses we do receive are captivating. Her “eyes like flashing diamonds” shine brightly, a beacon in the darkness of the room. Her hair, described as “silken tresses”, is further shrouded in a “robe around her shoulders”, hinting at a hidden beauty, a secret waiting to be unveiled.

The imagery here is quite striking. Diamonds are symbols of both beauty and permanence, suggesting that Isabel is both captivating and unforgettable. The robe adds a layer of mystery, making us wonder what lies beneath. Is she a damsel in distress, a hidden princess, or something else entirely?

Denver’s lyrics are simple yet effective. He doesn’t overload us with details, but rather lets the listener use their own imagination to fill in the blanks. This creates a sense of intimacy, as if we’re piecing together the story of Isabel alongside the narrator.

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Musically, “Isabel” is a gentle ballad. The acoustic guitar sets a melancholic tone, perfectly complementing the lyrics. Denver’s signature vocals are warm and inviting, drawing the listener deeper into the world of the song.

“Isabel” is more than just a pretty melody and some intriguing imagery. It’s a song that taps into a sense of longing and mystery that resonates with anyone who’s ever felt a connection to someone they don’t fully understand.

It’s a testament to Denver’s songwriting ability that he can create such a powerful song with such a seemingly simple premise. So, sit back, close your eyes, and let “Isabel” transport you to a world of shadows and secrets.