I was a camp kid growing up. Meaning I was one of those kids who went to and would not shut up about summer camp. I was obsessed. Truthfully, I still am — given the opportunity, I’d pack up and head to the mountains for a summer of lake swimming, woodworking, and friendship-bracelet-making in a second.
The best/worst thing about camp was saying goodbye; it was undeniably sad, but heavy with meaning and emotion proving just how much our summer together had meant. Inevitably, this was accompanied by a tearful sing-a-long to the John Denver classic, “Leaving On A Jet Plane.”
Now, I may have grown out of a lot things since those days (the tendency to wear hemp bracelets, a deep-seeded love of Guster and Dispatch), and into new things (snark, sarcasm, skinny jeans), but the emotional impact of the John Denver classic has remained unchanged. Trust me, I’m as surprised as you are.
This My Morning Jacket cover is part of an upcoming tribute album, featuring J. Mascis and Sharon Van Etten, Old Crow Medicine Show, Allen Stone, and others. While many covers promise to stray from the Denver originals in an interesting, unexpected way, the MMJ version of “Jet Plane” is as tender and heartbreaking as the original. Jim James’s smoky lilt caresses the timeless refrain, “Now kiss me and smile for me, tell me that you’ll wait for me, hold me like you’ll like you’ll never let me go,” with deep, genuine emotion, carried along by a delicate smattering of guitar strings.
For me, this song is wrapped up in campfires and crushes. But now it has infinitely more layers of meaning — heartbreak and life-shattering changes, moves and new beginnings, the tender sadness of goodbye, but the hope that can go along with it. Some things, John Denver included, really do get better with age.