Some Dreams Do Come True
by Beth Kozan
I was in Tucson, driving back to our newly rented apartment after a job interview. I switched on the car radio as a song by Peter, Paul & Mary ended. The DJ said, “…and that was Peter, Paul & Mary singing John Denver’s ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane.’” I almost ran the car off the road!
I had attended Texas Tech with John Deutchendorf (aka John Denver; aka Dutch) who enrolled in Texas Tech’s architecture program the same year I started in Allied Arts. I had classes of Basic Design and Freehand Drawing with Dutch over the next year and a half. He was friendly – the kind of “I’ve never met a stranger” friendly.
In our sophomore year (January 1963), he was late getting back to Texas Tech from his home in Ft. Worth after Christmas break. Our professors told us Dutch had come to say goodbye on his way to California to become a star! The professors hooted and laughed at the mere idea.
Through the rumor mill, I became aware in the intervening years that Dutch had changed his name to John Denver; he’d played at Disneyland under his new name. And he’d replaced Chad Mitchell in the Chad Mitchell Trio. I’d seen him on the Tonight Show.
I didn’t know he was writing so many good songs until I bought his albums Poems, Prayers & Promises and listened to his records.
In my summer Texas Tech speech class, a fellow student played guitar and sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane”; it was a nice song, but I didn’t know (and wasn’t interested in knowing) who wrote it.
But I was a John Denver fan. I listened to “Rocky Mountain High,” “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” I bought several of his albums; I watched him host TV specials with the Muppets and with Jacques Cousteau. I heard John sing in person in Tucson on his 40th birthday concert tour.
I used John’s story and music to calm my aunt who didn’t understand why her nephew (my cousin) didn’t return to the flat west Texas plains but chose to settle in Colorado when he got out of the Army after Viet Nam. I wrote the words to “Rocky Mountain High” in a letter to her. She said it helped her.
John Denver wrote meaningful songs that seemed to come easily to him. I think that in some mystical, magical way, he connected with Higher Spirits and simply took dictation. I was saddened by his death, but the way he died – flying an experimental plane off the California coast, alone – was, perhaps also a choice he made, like choosing to live in Colorado.
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.