John Denver – Thank God I’m a Country Boy

First Hit #1: June 7, 1975

America has this strange obsession with rural life, but are completely disconnected from actual rural life. It results in an interesting division between the romanticized life of the country with the actual life in the country, which is a bit less easy and laid back than John Denver would have you believe. If this song is accurate, country life is all fiddles and fun, though in reality it’s actually very difficult, physically demanding work which, during peak seasons, is exhausting. There are moments of joy, sure, and the people who do it love it, but as soon as you start the song with “Life on the farm is kinda laid back” you’re putting it right out there that you’ve never, ever done serious farming. If you’re dabbling, sure, it can seem pretty laid back, but if you’re trying to make money it’s the opposite. Granted, I’m not from the area where fiddle music really gets people going, so maybe they do some kind of other farming where John Denver’s from, but this smells strongly of someone who has a romantic vision of the farm, not a real country boy.

Musically, it’s an alright dance number, but I can’t get past how it sounds like the anthem of a dilettante.

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One Response to John Denver – Thank God I’m a Country Boy

  1. RBerman says:

    True enough thematically. Josh Abbott Band recently had a minor country hit protesting unrealistic musical depictions of rural life ( Are songs like “TGIACB” written by clueless rural poseurs, or are they defiant “glass half full” populist anthems intended to instill cultural pride? Probably varies from author to author.

    Denver’s repertoire has few upbeat songs like this one. It’s a cover tune by a member of Denver’s band, unusual for a singer-songwriter to release as a single at all, let alone off a live album, but obviously he assized the song and the moment correctly since it carried him to #1 again. I wager not many artists who hit #1 can actually play the fiddle, as Denver does on this song in concert.

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