Saturday, November 16, 2013

John Denver - It's About Time

This week (November 15th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of It’s About Time, the seventeenth studio album from John Denver. Dedicated to his father, the record peaked at number 92 in Canada, number 90 in the UK, number 61 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 55 on the US Billboard Country chart, and number 19 in Australia.

The musicians featured on the album included James Burton (lead guitar), Jerry Carrigan (drums), Glen Hardin (piano and keyboards), Jim Horn (saxophone, flute and recorder) and Jerry Scheff (bass). Guest artists on the record also included the Muscle Shoals horns, Rita Marley and the Wailers, Patti Austin and Emmylou Harris.

Side one opens with “Hold on Tightly”, a mid-tempo tune with a hint of a reggae rhythm. Its lyrics talk about coping with life and finding support in the things and people that mean the most to you.

“Thought of You”, with its lilting lullaby, is a reflecting piece of a love gone by. Very often, people keep a place in their hearts for those who touched them so many years ago. They often too harbor hope that a former spark might reignite if the timing were right. The song really spotlights Denver’s gentle yet powerful vocal style.

“Somethin’ About” features a country groove with a bit of a 70’s funk element underneath it, thanks to the horns and the bass. There is a nice guitar solo on this one.

“On the Wings of a Dream” takes a moment to think about death and life.

“Flight (The Higher We Fly)” keeps the slower, somber tone of the previous track. Here too Hardin’s piano plays a big part of the musical accompaniment.

Side two begins with “Falling Out of Love”, with a rather reluctant acceptance of a relationship that is ending. Horn’s saxophone adds just the right amount sadness to Denver’s vocals.

The B-side to the first single was “I Remember Romance”. It is perfect pairing with the previous track, sort of a follow-up a few months later. Again, we get Horn’s saxophone adding to the mood musically.

“Wild Montana Skies”, released as the first single, is a duet with Emmylou Harris. The record peaked at number 26 on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, number 15 on the Canadian Country chart, and number 14 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart and the US Billboard Country chart.

“World Game” was the B-side to the second single. The track, about being a good citizen of the world, features a reggae rhythm.

The title track and second single closes the record. “It’s About Time”, co-written by Denver and Hardin, is a reflection on the times and world situations. It calls for people to come together, put aside differences, and do what is best for the planet and future generations.

This was my first exposure to It’s About Time as John Denver definitely was not on my music radar during my college years. That being said, I found myself enjoying this album quite a bit as I listened to it for this review. Denver was near forty at the time, so the lyrics reflect upon things from the view of a person with some life experience. In my late forties myself, I can relate to them much more than I would have back when I was eighteen back in 1983.

For 1974’s Back Home Again, click here.

For 1982’s Seasons of the Heart, click here.

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