About the song

John Denver, the folksy troubadour known for his odes to mountain ranges and gentle breezes, tackling the electrifying rock and roll of Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. It sparks the imagination, doesn’t it?

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Released in 1958, Johnny B. Goode is a cornerstone of rock and roll. Chuck Berry’s infectious guitar riffs and driving rhythm captured the youthful energy and rebellion simmering beneath the surface of American society. The song tells the story of a young, black musician, Johnny B. Goode, whose raw talent transcends his humble background. Despite lacking formal training, his fingers fly across the fretboard, his music a force of nature.

John Denver, on the other hand, rose to fame in the 1970s with a very different sound. His music was all about wide-open spaces, environmental consciousness, and a kind of wholesome Americana. Songs like “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Sunshine on My Shoulders” painted idyllic portraits of rural life, a stark contrast to the gritty, urban energy of rock and roll.

So, when John Denver included Johnny B. Goode on his self-titled 1979 album, it raised eyebrows. Was it a playful homage? A genuine attempt to bridge the musical gap? Perhaps a bit of both. Denver’s version strips away the electric fury of the original, replacing it with a gentle acoustic arrangement. His banjo and mellow vocals transform the song into a folksy campfire singalong.

This unexpected take on a classic sparked debate. Some fans felt Denver had neutered the song’s rebellious spirit. Others, however, appreciated the way he highlighted the underlying story of raw talent and perseverance. Denver himself never explicitly explained his reason for covering the song. Perhaps he simply admired the timeless melody and relatable story.

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One thing is certain: Denver’s Johnny B. Goode stands as a testament to the enduring power of a great song. It can be reinterpreted, reimagined, and even gentrified, yet the core message of talent and determination still shines through. Whether you prefer the raw energy of Chuck Berry’s original or the folksy charm of John Denver’s rendition, Johnny B. Goode remains a rock and roll anthem for the ages.



“Johnny B. Goode”

Way down in Louisiana close to New Orleans, way back in the woods among the evergreens,
there stood a log cabin made or earth and wood,
where lived a country boy name of Johnny B. Goode.
He never ever learned to read or write so well, but he could play a guitar just like a ringing bell.

Go go go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, Johnny B. Goode.He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack, go sit beneath a tree by the railroad track.
The engineers would see him sitting in the shade strumming to the rhythm that the drivers made.
The people passing by they would stop and say, oh my, but that little country boy can play.
Go go go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, Johnny B. Goode.

Well, his momma told him, “Some day you will be a man.
You will be the leader of a big old band.
Many people coming from miles around just to hear you play your music till the sun goes down.

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Maybe someday your name’ll be in lights, saying, ‘Johnny B. Goode tonight.”
Go go go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, Johnny B. Goode.
Go go go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, go Johnny go go, Johnny B. Goode.