Doc Krieger’s 50 Fave Colorado/Colorado Place Themed Songs

One of my area’s of music collection is songs that mention either Colorado or places in Colorado.  I have amassed nearly 1500 individual performances in that genre – a good many of which, sadly, are pretty awful.  For some reason the state I live in seems to inspire insipid odes to living the simple live in the mountains or whiny country songs about losing your love from/in/to Colorado. Quality be damned, artists keep pumping them out (even more so in a rap style now that marijuana is legal here) and I keep adding them (don’t EVER start collecting something as you never get to the end till you stop respirating).  This list is an attempt to list some of my favorite songs that either mention the state of Colorado or some place within the state (sorry, that leaves out Jan & Dean as while the little old lady from Pasadena is the terror of Colorado Boulevard, it’s in California – also Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” never mentions our state and the mountain range extends to many states).  There are a great number of covers predictably of songs by John Denver or of classic old songs like “The Colorado Trail” so will only list one version.  Frankly there are certain artists who are practically advertisements for the state and it was hard to only pick one of their songs (J Denver, J Collins, J Salestrom, J Chandler, CW McCall and C Pyle all come to mind), but there is a wealth of great songs to choose from.  Where a youtube link is available, I’ll try to include it howeverit appears you will have to cut and paste each one into youtube – sorry.  Feel free to chime in with your thoughts as well.

1.Denver – Steve Alaimo – written by the same folks who wrote “Cry Like A Baby” for the Box Tops.  Steve Alaimo never had huge national hits, but always recorded from great material.  This song was a huge hit on Denver’s KIMN radio in the 60s but barely bubbled under nationally.

2.Denver – The New Christy Minstrels – according to the writer of this song, Randy Sparks, a copy of the sheet music on the wall of his office inspired a name change from Deutschendorf  to the simpler title name for performance on stage as John Denver as he wouldn’t have to change the initials on his luggage!  A great hoot night folk song though the overdubbed crowd noise at the beginning is annoying on LP (In Person) so the single is a better buy.

3.Wolf Creek Pass – C W McCall – in the grand story teller tradition of his hit “Convoy” is this great song about sliding into Pagosa Springs with a load of chickens – prepare to laugh out loud.  Bill Fries in real life was an adman who found his calling here and as mayor of Ouray.

4.Get Out Of Denver – Bob Seger – a crazed rocker from his album Seven about driving at excessive speed out of this fair state while making the acquaintance of a state trooper.  Dave Edmunds does a great version on his Get It album as well.

5.Colorado Christmas – The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – every so often someone writes a new Christmas song that stands out from the banal rest.  This one by the late Steve Goodman fits perfectly with Ibby’s warm country voice and is a tradition around our house every December 25th.

6.Colorado – Up With People – freshly scrubbed kids singing about coming to the state where a man can walk a mile high.  Local group the Warming Trend did a find version too, but you can’t be the original 60s version to feel uplifted and joyful.

7.Colorado Bluebird Sky – String Cheese Incident – when Bill and Jillian Nershi played this out the initial Colorado Music Hall event in Boulder a few years back, your’s truly perked up and hoped they would record it.  Finally it appeared in 2014 on the LP A Song In My Head – great clapalong countryish jams.

8.Mile High City – Hudson Ford – from the third solo album (Worlds Collide) by ex-Strawbs men who put on a superb concert at the old Ebbets Field on 14th and Curtis in Denver back in the 70s. At times progressive but great vocals and nice loud guitar sound.  This link has 2 songs so forward to 4:49.

9.40 Miles From Denver – Yonder Mountain String Band – another jam band song about Colorado with some fine mandolin and dobro.  While the version on the album Elevation is probably the best for listening, here is their performance from the 2008 DNC convention held at Mile High.

10.Rocky Mountain High – John Denver – seeing this man perform at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver’s foothills was the way to best hear his music but sadly that won’t happen again except in tribute (and there are some fine performers keeping his music alive).

11.Denver, City In The Sky – Mike Crowley – a wonderful tune wedded to tourism bureau friendly lyrics with an admittedly dated 70s synth break by former Back Porch Majority member Crowley.

12.Colorado – The Flying Burrito Brothers – when Rick Roberts joined the Burritos he brought a wonderful tenor voice and this great ballad that has later covered by Linda Ronstadt.  It’s hard to say if this or his later Firefall hits are his best work but I’m glad I got to meet him and thank him for his music.

13.Someday Soon – Judy Collins – Ms. Collins simply has the most beautiful voice to go with her piercing blue eyes.  Starting in Boulder as a folk singer, she has had a remarkable career singing every style imaginable including this country ballad by Ian Tyson.  One of the nicest performers I have met as well.

14.Denver Rain – Michael Stanley – one of the highlights of the shortlived Denver label Tumbleweed.  A gorgeous flute driven ballad with a killer sounding acoustic guitar (would love to know how they got such depth of sound).

15.A Good Feeling To Know – Poco – at once one of the highlights of Poco’s career and the song that broke Richie Furay’s musical will at the time.  To this day he can’t (and fans can’t) fathom how this great crowd favorite 70s sing-along wasn’t able to find a place on the charts.  Charts be damned, however, it is still a classic.

16.Man Of Constant Sorrow – Rod Stewart – this song dates from at least the early 1900s and has been recorded countless times.  This might be the definitive version from the first solo album (The Rod Stewart Album). Still perhaps his best period for old fans like me was the Jeff Beck Group to the end of the Faces.

17.Telluride – Tim McGraw – a fine song from his Set This Circus Down album which is pretty loud and driving for country.

18.I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado – Mary Travers – boy is it hard to pick the best version of this fine gentle ballad.  Fat City wrote it and did a great version as did John Denver, but Mary on hiatus from Peter & Paul applies the right veneer of beauty to it.

19.Colorado – Danny Holien – perhaps this song deserves to be higher on the list as it really is beautiful and the Tumbleweed label packaging sumptuous, but decided to dock it a few places due to lazy chorus – by bu bu by bu bu by – hmmm. Still when it kicks in at 1:57 with flute and strings it can’t be beat.

20.My Crime – Canned Heat – a bit of a left turn here but a hot blues from the Boogie With… album about their actual bust at the hands of Denver cops while playing the short-lived lamented Family Dog out on Evans (now a strip club I think).

21.Boulder To Birmingham – The Hollies – purists will scream that the Emmylou Harris original about the loss of her man Gram Parsons is the definitive version, but the vocal harmonies of the Hollies can still thrill even on this later day album (A Crazy Steal).

22.Colorado – Bill & Gloria Gaither – a real guilty pleasure here with a  new millenium update of the old freshly scrubbed formula established by acts like Up With People.  This Christian music outfit frankly put a chill down the spine however with this song about how Colorado is on the way to Heaven.

23.Colorado Calling Me – Jim & Jesse – fine bluegrass tribute to our state

24.The Spanish Peaks – Jon Chandler – possessing one of the most soothing radio-friendly basic baritones and thankfully in love with making music about Colorado and environs.  If you get a chance, go see him in concert and pick up his best of CD Sepia Soul.

25.Crystal Colorado – Alpha Rev – the Austin alternative rockers included this driving minor key rocker on their 2011 ep City Farm: Roots.

26.Colorado – Chuck Pyle – another artist worth seeking out in concert is the Zen cowboy (best appreciated with Gordon Burt on fiddle).

27.Leaving Colorado – Hillbilly Hellcats – gotta love the energy of rockabilly.  Get out the poodle skirts and ducktails.

28.The Colorado Trail – Don Edwards – the old classic has never sounded better.  Edwards has been plugging away playing cowboy music  in the tradition of people like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.  This was co-produced by Michael Martin Murphey on the Songs Of The Trail LP.

29.Colorado – Merle Haggard (or) Golden West Wranglers – okay, this is a dodge, but can’t decide on the version.  The classic Dave Kirby song about God spending time in Colorado has been done umpteen times and Haggard’s version is the best studio recording – however, the best way to appreciate this song is with some bbq and a plate of beans and tater salad at a chuckwagon ranch hence the version from a 1983 LP by the long forgotten Wranglers from up at now forgotten Heritage Square in Golden.

30.Colorado Country Morning – Tennessee Ernie Ford – another song with great multiple versions (Pat Boone et al).  The ole peapicker his-self wraps his bass around the song with a crying steel, banjo and profundo strings.

31.My Colorado Home – Jim Salestrom – a musical descendent keeping the John Denver spirit alive.  This is a fine mid-tempo acoustic song about coming home to the mountains.  Very little Salestrom is on youtube so here is a link to his store where you click on a sample of the song.

32.The Colorado Sky – The F.A.B. Company – Ralph Achilles has recorded his chill inducing narrative  as told to his son in several forms over the years but the definitive version was from the Take Time album – which I would love to give a musical link to but it doesn’t exist.  Here is a link to their page anyway.

33.Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead – Warren Zevon – the late king of wry did this on his 1991 Mr. Bad Example album and it became a movie title track.  It drives and confuses at the same time.

34.Colorado Girl – The High Rollers – local Durango, Colorado country band that manage to get an agreeable chugging drum sound with fine fiddling.  Sort of a modern country answer to the Beach Boys “California Girls”.

35.Denver – Jonathan Kelly – an obscure 1969 UK import single that thanks to youtube you can now enjoy.  fine chorus.

36.From Denver To L.A. – Elton John(s) – another obscure by an artist who had some success from what I hear (though the ‘s’ at the end of his name must have been a mistake on the single, right?

37.Colorado Jones – Jerry Corbetta/Sugarloaf – from the Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You LP comes this fine guitar rocker.

38.A Mile High In Denver – Jimmy Buffett – before he was a parrothead.  A fine 70s acoustic folk-pop song.

39.Run Colorado – Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich (Dave Dee Group) – frothy UK import pop single that builds to a nice harmony singout.

40.Colorado Moon – Tim Malchak – lovely 198os country ballad with an agreeable vocal harmony on the chorus.

41.Colorado Call – Shad O’Shea & The 18 Wheelers – a silly “Convoy” take-off – semi-salacious, but get ready for the big surprize ending!

42.Out In Colorado – Dion & The Timberlines – very different from “Runaround Sue”, this early single sound like a 50s movie tune for sure.

43.Colorado Love Call (from Little Mary Sunshine) – Captn. Jim & Little Mary – campy and silly, you have to love it.

44.Come On Up To Tincup – Pete Smythe – gosh, sure wish this was on the net so will post his obit instead.  Mr. Colorado back in the 50s on KOA/KLZ.  Found on his Bottom Ten Of The Barbed Wire Network album, this was an ode to his fictional town (based on a real Colorado ghosttown and later his own amusement park).

45.Colorado – Jack Kastle – this was a fixture on Hal Moore’s Friday salute to Colorado on 630 KHOW.  The creaky synth sounds dated, but the sentiment holds up.  Not on youtube so here is a link to one of the great Colorado music sites put together by Lisa Wheeler.

46.Goin’ Back To Colorado – Timothy P. Irvin – from his After The War album when he had a big hat and alot of hair.  Now he rocks the oldies without a beard in Flash Cadillac.  No link exists.

47.Colorado State Song – Grubstake – one of the great musical curmudgeons was the late U. Utah Phillips who wrote this somewhat dated, but still relevant rant that can be applied to any tourist state, frankly.  (“…bring your money, bring your friends…but don’t forget to leave when you get through”).  Here is a short clip sung by Jack Stanesco along with Harry Tuft and Steve Abbott with Dick Weissman and Mary Flower (Withers).

48.Denver Twist & Freeze – Orlie & The Saints – Denver label Bandbox tried the same trick with this song that Tommy Facenda did with “High School U.S.A.” – record a different version for many U.S. cities and hope to sell more that way (18 versions in my collection). The Denver version has to be the definitive one since the label was based here, but only other cities’ versions are on youtube so here is a link to another fine Colorado music site run by Craig Swank.

49.Wild In Colorado – Runaway Express – Jim & Salli Ratts have lead this band forever it seems and put out some great music.  This song is from the Nature album.  No link exists.

50.Shot Down In Denver – Sha Na Na – a very different sound for these purveyors of oldies, this is a very 70s sounding pop song o their self-titled album.  Sadly I can’t find a link anywhere but here is a version by Chalice that is similar with a weaker lead vocal.


4 thoughts on “Doc Krieger’s 50 Fave Colorado/Colorado Place Themed Songs

  1. God you are correct! Just checked over a batch of my Colorado related LP’s and everybody is “Comin’ Back” or “Headed Out” or “Colorado Dreamin'” or especially about “the simple life” – group/artist always posed by a mountain stream or a railroad track or naturally a mountain top….”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My aunt and uncle had a player piano and one of the rolls had a song that I think was called Dreaming of Colorado
    Dreaming of Colorado out in the Golden West
    Dreaming of hills and valleys where there is peace and rest
    Deep in my heart is a longing just for one site of you
    I know your always waiting, I know your always true
    Colorado Colorado ever true
    Colorado Corp I love you.
    I have Google this song several times and found nothing, the last time I remember playing it was when I was in grade school and I’m 67 now.


    • In my collection of 450+ Colorado song recordings, there is no song with that title however that doesn’t surprise me. The area of Colorado “boosterism” sheet music is yet another place you can collect that relates to Colorado music. While I personally only have a dozen or so pieces of Colorado themed sheet music, there were hundreds of obscure rarities from the early part of the 1900’s that sing the praises of our state and the mountains. I had a friend (now deceased) who had many file cabinets filled with nothing but Colorado sheet music – you can see a small portion of those items if you can find a copy of the excellent Spring 1992 publication of the Colorado Historical Society “Colorado Heritage.” Thanks for taking the time to write.


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