New state anthem to rival ‘Rocky Mountain High’
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — New hit single by Johnny Durango titled, “Thank You Colorado,” will be released to Coloradans and the 85.2 million fans of Colorado that visit us each year on Aug. 31, 2020.
The single will be followed by an album of the same name, Thank You Colorado, which will include two more songs about Colorado: “Mr. Denver” and “Leaving Colorado.”
When asked “Why Colorado?” the answer is simple: “I fell in love with Colorado when I was 19,” said Johnny D., the name he likes to go by.
“I came out here from South Florida, near the Everglades, to Buena Vista, Colo., to be a mountaineering and rafting guide. The moment the wheels touched down on my plane, I was swept away. It was one of those perfect Colorado days — the kind we have so many of. It was nearly 100-degrees in Florida when I left and the mosquitoes were buzzing. I spent my first night in Colorado riding cookie trays down the Continental Divide on top of Cottonwood Pass by moonlight in 9 feet of snow. Changed my life forever.”
“I write all my songs, and they’re at least 90% true,” he said with a wink. “My philosophy to writing is that a song should make you feel something. So, to write this album, I asked myself, “What makes you feel something?” I answered me with, “Colorado makes me feel something. I’m so thankful to live here, and I’m not alone.” This state has given me — and so many others — so much.”
It just happened to be that he wrote Thank You Colorado in November, Thanksgiving month. People liked the song so much that he kept writing and recording until he finished two albums. “You could call it a creative storm,” said Johnny D.
He describes himself during the years he was an outdoor guide in Colorado as, “a little John Denver.” Like John Denver, at age 19, Johnny D. had long moppy blonde hair and blue eyes, was as granola as his Chaco sandals and GORP, and learned guitar at the same time he started spending his summers in Colorado. You could say he came home “to a place he’d never been before” (a quote from “Rocky Mountain High”).
“While I love his (John Denver’s) music, I didn’t know much about him, until recently when I read his autobiography and it inspired me to write him a song, like Garth Brooks did for Chris LeDoux, after Chris died. I suppose I’m 20 years late.” John Denver died in 1997.
“Mr. Denver,” the song, is about a phone call to Heaven between Johnny D. and John Denver.
And then, he wrote another song about Colorado, “Leaving Colorado.”
“I’ve got a sister-in-law who lives in Florida, but loves, loves, loves Colorado,” explained Johnny D. “When she is skiing out here, you can’t find a happier person in all 50 states. Watching her made me think about how depressed people get when they leave Colorado and go back to their lives in other states.”
“I felt the same way when my summer would end in Buena Vista,” he continued. “I’d drive Highway 24 back through the mountains and descend into Colorado Springs and once I passed Manitou Springs, my heart would melt. By the time I hit Limon (Colorado) and looked back on the mountains, my eyes got watery. Then came Kansas, and I sobbed.”
“That last part was a joke,” he said.
Johnny Durango lives just south of Colorado Springs, Colo., on a 17-acre ranch where he tends to his bees, chickens, horses and kids. Johnny D. has climbed eight fourteeners, guided the Royal Gorge, and even served in the U.S. Air Force in Colorado Springs. You could say he bleeds red, yellow and blue.
A pre-released full-length copy of Thank You Colorado is available at johnnydurango.rocks. ❖