My Morning Jacket, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Brandi Carlile & more on John Denver charity album

By Allison Rivers

It’s been 40 years since “Rocky Mountain High” was released, but John Denver’s music still holds a special place in music history. Now a whole new music generation has teamed up with ATO Records to remember his life and achievements with a new record, “The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver,” set to be released on April 2.

Denver often sang about his love of nature and in later years was a known environmental activist. To honor that memory, ATO Records is donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this record to The Wilderness Society in Denver’s name.

Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has focused on protecting America’s untamed lands and on bestowing the American public with a sense of stewardship towards the the wild areas of our country. Its recent initiatives have involved ending oil and gas drilling, funding conservation projects, and designating public lands as wilderness, national monuments and national parks. As Aldo Leopold, the co-founder of The Wilderness Society, stated, “Wilderness is a resource that can shrink but not grow…the creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.” It’s time we start taking ownership for the 110 million acres that are currently designated as America’s wilderness.

“The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver” features tracks by an assorted community including My Morning Jacket, Old Crow Medicine Show, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Brandi Carlile, Dave Matthews Band, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Josh Ritter and Barnstar!, Train, Amos Lee, Kathleen Edwards, Allen Stone, Brett Dennen and Milow, Evan Dando, Blind Pilot, Mary Chapin Carpenter, J. Mascis and Sharon Van Etten.

Denver’s genuine passion for the untamed outdoors is beautifully clear in his 1985 testimony to Congress arguing against banning radio airplay of his song “Rocky Mountain High” for allegedly promoting drug use:

“This was obviously done by people who had never seen or been to the Rocky Mountains, and also had never experienced the elation, celebration of life, or the joy in living that one feels when he observes something as wondrous as the Perseid meteor shower on a moonless, cloudless night, when there are so many stars that you have a shadow from the starlight, and you are out camping with your friends, your best friends, and introducing them to one of nature’s most spectacular light shows for the first time.”

For a preview of “The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver,” click here. To find out more about The Wilderness Society or to make a donation to, click here. To sign a petition asking President Obama to stop oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, click here.

Watch “Protecting America’s Wilderness” narrated by Edward Norton:

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