A MILE HIGH IN DENVER (By Jimmy Buffett) A Colorado Song

I have just returned from a week in Florida where there seems to be a law that tourists are required to listen to Jimmy Buffett’s “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll.”  Down there, nobody even thinks about – and perhaps they don’t even know about – Jimmy’s long-time ties to Colorado, which began no later than 1970 when “A Mile High in Denver” was included on his very first album, Down to Earth (1970).1

Jimmy Buffett was born on Christmas Day, 1946.  He grew up in Alabama and Mississippi, and earned a degree in History from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1969.  However, he really wanted a career in music and soon moved to Nashville where he worked for the regional staff of Billboard magazine and played in local clubs.  He is a talented writer and musician and was quickly discovered and signed to record for Barnaby Records, a label owned by singer Andy Williams.

Sometime before that first record came out, Jimmy vacationed in Colorado.  It being 1970, and Jimmy being Jimmy, the title’s reference to being a “mile high” has been seen as a sly refereimg_0150nce to drugs.  It may very well be that, but the song is mostly about a vacation in Colorado.

That first album is stylistically much different than Jimmy’s later work.  Back in 1970, he seemed to be another folksy singer/songwriter offering social commentary with songs like “The Christian?” and “Ellis Dee (He Ain’t Free)” and clever tunes like “Captain America.”  However, that first album also had an excellent song about Jimmy’s grandfather, a old seafaring man, called “The Captain and the Kid” that gave a hint of his future work.

Jimmy did not remain in Colorado.  After he left Nashville, he spent a couple of years busking in New Orleans and Key West, during which time he developed the “Gulf and Western” style that has defined his career and made him rich and famous.

Still, he must have liked Colorado because when he became rich and famous he moved here and bought a house on Snowmass Road outside of Aspen.   He was not just one of the celebrity residents, either; he was actively involved in the community.  He occasionally appeared at some local venues, of course; but he also also was the big-name draw for former pro football player Ed Podolak’s annual High Country Shoot-out golf tournament and fundraiser, and he even sponsored a softball team in Aspen’s recreational league.2

Jimmy married his second wife in a ceremony at the Redstone Castle, in Redstone, Colorado.  That event is still talked about because of the many celebrities who attended and the music at the reception performed by Jimmy’s band and the Eagles.3 Jimmy’s daughter, Savannah Jane, was born in Aspen in 1979.

Like many of the rich and famous, Buffett owned several houses in various exotic locations.  He eventually sold his Colorado home and moved back to the ocean.
We may not have an ocean here in Colorado, but we do have a great Jimmy Buffett song, “A Mile High in Denver.”

A Mile High in Denver
By Jimmy Buffett

Sittin’ on a pocket full of hard earned wages
Lookin’ at the world through magazine pages
I heard a lot about the mountains and the Colorado range
Made this stop for personal reasons
I didn’t know I’d catch the changin’ of the seasons
Where winter dictates everything from frost to naked trees

I’m about a mile high in Denver
Where the rock meets timberline
I’ve walked this ground from town to town
Just to finally call it mine

Lookin’ for the cloud with a Styrofoam lining
Hopin’ that the sun will keep on shining
Leading me to distant peace that waits so patiently
Need a little love to try some givin’
Try a little love and then start livin’
Things I feared so long ago
When everything was wrong

I’m about a mile high in Denver
Where the rock meets timberline
I’ve walked this ground from town to town
Tonight I’ll call it mine

Sittin’ on a pocket full of hard earned wages
Lookin’ at the world through magazine pages
I heard a lot about the mountains and the Colorado range
Need a little time to try some livin’
Try a little love and then start givin’
Things I feared so long ago
When everything was wrong
I’m about a mile high in Denver
Where the rock meets timberline
Where God and trees create the breeze
Tonight I’ll call it mine

© MARGARITAVILLE

For an index of the Colorado Songs in this series, please click here.

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1. As an aside, I previously wrote about another Jimmy Buffett song, “He Went to Paris,” which has been the second most popular Post I have written in the past five years.  There are a lot of Parrotheads out there.

2. As another aside, I, myself, was playing some recreational softball back in those days, and our team participated in a tournament in which one of the other teams was sponsored by Jimmy Buffett’s next door neighbor from Snowmass, Glen Frey of the Eagles.

3. As a third aside, I was visiting a friend who lived in Redstone on the day before that wedding ceremony.  I was invited to stay and attend as one of the people working for the caterer, but I only had my hiking clothes, my dogs were with me and I had something else to do the next day, so I declined.  I may have offended Jimmy Buffett by not coming because he hasn’t spoken to me since then.4

4. To be honest, he never spoke to me before that, either.  We have never met.

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