Denver's popularity peaked in the 1970s with such hits as "Rocky Mountain High" and "Annie's Song." He was a far cry from the long-haired rock and disco acts of the time, and his clean-cut activism on behalf of the environment helped make him a popular TV performer. Here, Denver outlines his life, describing his birth into a military family, his conflicts with his stern father, and his burgeoning interest in music as a way to express his otherwise shy self. He goes on to talk about life on the road as a performer; his eventual involvement in self-help groups, such as EST; and his infidelities to his wife, Annie. But, just as Denver's stage persona contrasted with those of John Phillips (Papa John, LJ 6/1/86) and David Crosby (Long Time Gone, LJ 11/15/88), so does his autobiography. Adultery and EST aside, this confessional's weakness lies in a lack of openness. Denver doesn't paint a pretty picture of himself, but behind the story he tells, there is no depth and no details. For celebrity mavens and those who want to know the "why" about a person, this makes for unsatisfying reading. Not recommended unless demand is great.-Rosellen Brewer, MOBAC Lib. System, Montery, Cal.
Boy, talk about looks being deceiving. The smiling, bespectacled singer-songwriter who gave us such good-time hits as "Sunshine on My Shoulders" and "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" is actually an awkward, insecure loner fighting the demons of his relationships with his father, his wife, and his agent, to name three. Denver, who was born Henry John Deutschendorf, an air force brat, had a Great Santini-like relationship with his father and apparently a very unhappy childhood, during which he saw injustices done to those weaker than himself but felt powerless to stop it. Although he does mention how he came to write some of his biggest hits, including "Leaving on a Jet Plane," "Annie's Song," and "Take Me Home, Country Roads," fans will be disappointed that he doesn't expand more on the songwriting. Denver also feels strongly about environmental issues, but entertainment buffs may feel a little slighted by just passing references to personalities like David Crosby and Harry Chapin and the virtual nonexistence of the singer's biggest film role, namely, that opposite George Burns in "Oh God!" In other words, forget about a music biz tell-all; Denver chooses, instead, to exorcise his psychological demons throughout, and although it's kind of interesting, it's far from far-out.