I have to say that when Liz listed this song in her top ten, I was very excited! I hadn’t really liked John Denver until I was seriously introduced to some of his music in my internship. I did some research on John Denver a few months ago, and I was very impressed with his life story.
At one time, I had thought that this song was kind of hokey. I mean, the refrain is basically 4 statements about sunshine:
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy,
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry.
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely,
Sunshine almost always makes me high.”
But this is one of those songs where the simplicity speaks. It’s a song about pure emotion, of purity, and well wishes. There really isn’t anything better than that.
John Denver isn’t necessarily the first artist that I would think of to use with the elderly. Mostly because John Denver isn’t of their age group, nor was he an artist who was popular during the time that those individuals would be in their 20’s. You know, the two general “rules” one uses when working with geriatrics. . .
But, I think Liz is somewhat brilliant to have chosen John Denver. In 1975, John Denver did a series of concerts with Frank Sinatra. These concerts were not only musical in content, but there were also some comedic skits. More importantly, Denver performing with Sinatra would have introduced his work to Sinatra Fans. And we definitely know that Frank Sinatra fits perfectly into the two “rules” stated above.
I think in general, John Denver is an incredibly friendly artist for many populations. But looking specifically to geriatrics, I think that his humble nature, and simple style of his music would be attractive to this population. I believe this song in particular would be wonderful for evoking memories.
“If I had a tale that I could tell you
I’d tell a tale sure to make you smile”
I am excited to try out this song on the piano, as it is traditionally played on the guitar. How would you use this song in session?