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Wednesday 20 February 2019

State of the Union - Colorado

George writes:
That magnificent beastie is, as some may know, the Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly, the official insect of today’s state, Colorado. Which is Spanish for red. So here’s another piece where I supply a couple of songs about a state of which I know nothing, apart from knowing that Denver is in Colorado (and the official insect is the above butterfly). Warren Zevon does not, unfortunately, supply a nice long list of things to do in the state capital apart from suggesting finding a motel with unseemly cleaning habits. But he did give us a splendid song. Here we go:

That sounds like some Flaco flourishes on that track.

Unlike Arkansas, Colorado and it’s cities have a plethora of good songs:
  • Emmylou Harris - Boulder to Birmingham
  • That Townes van Zandt song
  • …….John Denver - I guess he’d rather be in Colorado

John Denver changed his name to Denver from Deutschendorf, and dropped his first name, Henry. He was not born in Denver.  But he wrote songs about the state of Colorado, the one above, a song about Aspen, and Rocky Mountain High. And he lived there.

I wanted to include a song about Telluride, because of its link to the element tellurium. And I wanted to do that because tellurium, is in the same group of  the periodic table as oxygen, sulphur and selenium (it lies directly below selenium). And given the nature of these groups, tellurium-related breath of humans is even stinkier than that due to sulphur and selenium. And you know how smelly hydrogen sulphide is: that rotten egg, stink bomb smell. So if tellurium gets in your body you will smell so bad you will have to stay indoors on your own (honestly, it’s that bad). But the Tim McGraw song is unfortunately one of those 1980s style country-music-by-numbers songs.

There’s (yet another) dreadful dreadful syrupy country that I listened to, so you don’t have to, dear reader, called Columbine by C. W. McCall. My research has revealed to me that there seem to be plenty of dreadful songs about this state (Merle Haggard, the Pure Prairie League, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Hank Snow, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, for example), a right load of dreary old tosh. I was on the verge of sticking pins in my eyes………..which would certainly have been preferable to listening to all of  the truly execrable Colorado Trail by the Kingston Trio. Speaking of truly execrable songs there’s this, sung by Elton John, dating from ca. 1970. I DARE you to listen all the way through_

Anyway, here’s something that cannot fall to better than that, a track that is also about Denver. And it is not a country song either, but, for the first time in the series, and not the last, let me tell that and tell you no more, a blues song! From our favourite German label Trikont, from the album Blue and Lonely, a track by Tampa Red

Hudson Woodbridge was not born in Tampa but in Smithville, Georgia. He did, though, move there aged 10.

Unfortunately Colorado Kool-Aid by Johnny Paycheck cannot be included, it is set in Houston, in a bar frequented by knife-wielding Mexicans. An ear is sliced off, but the slicer returns it to its owner. And Hank Williams Jr wrote a song about ODing in Denver, which is not a bad song at all, but obviously the drug reference is to be severely frowned at.

And that’s Colorado for you. Another one next week?

CC writes:
When I went with a couple of pals to see Cathryn Craig play in Blackfriars in Glasgow at the end of the show we expressed some polite disappointment that she hadn't sung Colorado. She got out her guitar, sat down and played it for the three of us. Quality


  1. You could've used 'Telluride Speed' by Ryley Walker George, although the title relates to the chemical rather than the place. Great Tampa Red tune.

  2. Stephen Stills' band Manassas did a song called "Colorado" on their debut album. Denver was the place I stayed the 1st time I went to the USA and "Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead" is a pretty good but very weird movie with Christopher Walken at his scenery-chewing best!

  3. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty went looking for Dean's dad in Denver- I think there's a recording of Kerouac reading it.

  4. Wooden Wand - Southern Colorado Song

    Johnny Cash - You Wild Colorado

    But if you've had enough country, there's always...

    Bowling For Soup - Surf Colorado

    The Bluetones - Colorado Beetle

    Or Get Out Of Denver by Bob Seger, covered by Dave Edmunds or Eddie & The Hot Rods.

  5. John Denver's ASPENGLOW (already mentioned) is a lovely track I play at Christmas. BOULDER To Birmingham, I know from The Starland Vocal Band whose Bill Danoff co-wrote it with Emmylou. Then you've got Neil Young's CRIPPLE CREEK Ferry which is probably the Colorado Cripple Creek. The LAFAYETTES' Life's Too Short, LINCOLN COUNTY (One of Colorados' 64 counties) by Dave Davies and finally LARKSPUR of course, the 1962 Epsom Derby winner.