Many generations have found comfort and inspiration from the lyrics of John Denver, including journalist Megyn Kelly in her book, “Settle for More.” Throughout the book, she refers to Denver’s rendition of the song “Today,” and how she has drawn inspiration from those words in her career.
At the conclusion of her book, she leaves readers with the advice to lean toward positivity, but in the form of this stanza:
“I’ll be a dandy and I’ll be a rover
You’ll know who I am by the songs that I sing.
I’ll feast at your table, I’ll sleep in your clover
Who cares what the morrow shall bring?”
(Settle for More, p. 320)
Not only does that verse evoke attitudes of positivity, it also conveys Kelly’s sense of a moral compass. “You’ll know who I am by the songs that I sing” — after a lifetime of reporting, in-depth research and promoting women’s strength, that statement couldn’t sum up Kelly more. Fans and viewers know the person she is by the content she produces, and that is a mission that she is proud of.
So what other wisdom lies within the tunes of Denver? I’ve gone through some of his top hits and compiled the most inspirational poster-worthy quotes I could find.
“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.
If I had a day that I could give you, I’d give to you the day just like today.
If I had a song that I could sing for you, I’d sing a song to make you feel this way.”
“Sunshine on My Shoulders”
This refrain from his gentle classic “Sunshine on My Shoulders” encourages listeners to spread positivity to everyone around them, no matter what kind of a day they are having.
“I wouldn’t trade my life for diamonds or jewels,
I never was one of them money hungry fools.”
“Thank God I’m a Country Boy”
As self-explanatory as it is, this line from folk anthem “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” rings true in anybody’s lifestyle, whether they be a prairie man at heart or a bonafide city slicker. College students hear the advice time and time again: don’t chase money in a career or you will be miserable. Get a degree in something you love, and the enjoyable career will be worth the potentially lower salary.
Even in a broader sense, those lyrics are words that should be taken as a mission statement by any human being: if you love your life, you won’t want to trade what you have for anything. Love what you’ve got, says Denver. Remember that.
“…Reach for the heavens and hope for the future
and all that we can be, and not what we are.”
“The Eagle and the Hawk”
High energy and fast tempos in this track go right alongside with the attitude associated with it: excitement for the future. If you keep yourself rooted in the imperfections in your life as it is currently, you will only bring yourself down. True success will come from hoping for the future, looking forward to “what [you] can be,” and seeking to become that ideal future self.
“Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know what the future is holding in store,
I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not sure where I’ve been.
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me,
my life is worth the living, I don’t need to see the end.”
At the same time you are aspiring for your future, it does not suit goals well to complete them in dreams, but not in reality. Spending excessive amounts of time dreaming and worrying about the future will take precious energy away from achieving your goals. The future will come in due time, but “just be here today” to improve yourself and prepare for that future. You don’t need to see the end. You just need to see the road in front of you, and how you can get there faster and more efficiently.
No matter the occasion, no matter the lifestyle, Denver is always a great source to turn to for words of encouragement. If this semester starts getting you down, I hope you will take Kelly’s advice to “[remember] all the things so beautifully laid out in those John Denver lyrics [… ] to laugh, cry, and sing.” Those values will gear your life for success.