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Colorado is High on a John Denver Song


For reasons too tedious to mention, each of the 50 U.S. state legislatures has taken time out of its busy schedule to declare official thisses and thats, like mottos and colors. Official mammals, like the mule in Missouri; and official fish like the Kentucky bass. You can guess which state it's from. Even official beverages: cranberry juice in Massachusetts, for one.

And every state, save New Jersey, has an official song. Perhaps understandably, the governor never signed the proclamation that made a song with lyrics like, "I think it's simply great" New Jersey's official tune.

Many state songs are musty old numbers. Connecticut's "Yankee Doodle," for instance, first appeared before the American Revolution. Other states have adopted contemporary, promotional ditties like "I Love New York."

Which brings us to Colorado. Like some other states, it actually has two official songs, including an old one about a cute little mountain flower.

But because Oct. 13 of this year will mark the 10th anniversary of the death of singer/songwriter John Denver in a plane crash, and since he brought Colorado all kinds of attention with his smash hit "Rocky Mountain High," the legislature has declared it the joint state song.

Never mind some concern that this line might give the wrong impression: ". . . friends around the campfire, and everybody's high."

As the New York Times reported, supporters assured folks that this was about a natural high – "the tingly feeling you get after a nice hike, perhaps."

Yup, even though "Rocky Mountain High" talks about a fellow who "got so crazy once, he tried to touch the sun," Colorado's newest state song has nothing to do with illicit drugs. Nothing whatsoever.

Lawmakers say the title of the newest state song doesn't refer to drugs, but to the natural high inspired by Colorado's scenic beauty.

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