TAKE ME HOME: An Autobiography by John with Arthur Tobier Denver

TAKE ME HOME: An Autobiography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A hazily rendered autobiography of the popular 1970s folk singer. Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf, the self-conscious, withdrawn son of an uptight Air Force pilot; at 50, the singer says, he's still struggling to reach adulthood. With the help of oral historian Tobier, he describes youthful alienation in Montgomery, Ala., and Fort Worth, Tex.; early successes on the L.A. folk music scene and as the composer of ""Leaving on a Jet Plane"" for Peter, Paul, and Mary; and his peripatetic late '60s life as a singer of satirical antiwar songs with the Chad Mitchell Trio. Despite these counterculture credentials, Denver acknowledges that he's rather square -- of Mick Jagger's appeal he says, ""Frankly, I just didn't get it."" That and a certain shyness, along with a string of hits through the mid-'70s, helped make him palatable to enormous numbers of Americans and, later, the unthreatening embodiment of a progressive environmental stance. Denver's attempt to ""define his space"" has drawn him to various New Age phenomena, including Werner Erhard's EST, astrology, and Native American soul retrieval. He has sought to make constructive use of his popularity and wealth, as a member of Jimmy Carter's Commission on World Hunger and founder of Windstar, a Colorado environmental institute. Flashes of self-awareness (""Being 'cute' onstage was my way of covering up a fear...of being seen as vacuous"") and clichÉs appear in equal proportion here. Despite confessions of drug use, extramarital affairs, and an angry incident with a chainsaw, the sort of detail that would lend drama to such scenes is generally lacking. Fans may get greatest satisfaction from descriptions of the circumstances that inspired hits like ""Take Me Home, Country Roads"" and ""Rocky Mountain High."" This may resonate with Denver's still-sizable following but few others.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1994
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harmony