10 Of The Best Songs About Denver: The Mile High City Playlist

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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Tucked away in the center of Colorado, Denver is a large, beautiful city that has been the topic of many hit songs. Songs to do with Denver are often about love, simplicity, and the city’s unbeatable atmosphere.

Many Denver songs are about the natural high that one only gets on Colorado’s Appalachian trails. Other songs shed light on the city itself and take us on wild rides across Denver’s well-lit streets.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at 10 of the best songs about Denver. Let’s get started.

Related: Check out our list of songs about Colorado here.

1. “Get Out of Denver” By Bob Seger

Bob’s Seger’s “Get Out of Denver” was the first track on his forgotten 1974 album Seven. It was the only song from Seven to hit the Billboard charts.

The song tells of our singer and his girlfriend driving 120 mph on a road trip across the United States. They immediately stir up trouble with the police and a preacher in Denver and are quickly run out of town.

According to Seger, “Get Out of Denver” was his attempt at writing a Chuck Berry-style song. The track is incredibly upbeat and fast-paced and is considered a classic among Seger’s work.

2. “Denver” By Willie Nelson

With a runtime of less than a minute, “Denver” is one of Willie Nelson’s shortest songs. Simple and sweet, it tells the story of a man in Denver who meets, smiles at, and dances with a girl at a tavern.

The song opens by describing Denver’s city lights. Nelson goes on to mention that the city’s residents judge you for the smallest things, even when it’s none of their business.

By the end of the song, the lyrics describe the man and woman dancing and smiling, focusing on the people’s judgments no more.

3. “Rocky Mountain High” By John Denver

John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is a calming folk rock song that garnered some controversy after its release. Denver was inspired to write the track after camping in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and spotting a meteor shower.

The lyrics celebrate the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and all of Colorado. Denver spent several months writing “Rocky Mountain High” to perfectly encapsulate how flawless that one night was.

Shortly after its release, “Rocky Mountain High” was banned from radio stations for supposedly promoting drug use. Denver disputed this claim, insisting the “high” was actually referring to the natural relaxing feeling of Colorado.

He later used the song to testify against music censorship in 1985.

4. “A Mile High in Denver” By Jimmy Buffett

This country song “A Mile High in Denver,” by Jimmy Buffett, is dedicated to the beauty of Denver. The song tells the story of our singer visiting Colorado after wanting to visit for “personal reasons.” 

It goes into detail about everything that makes the Mile High City a paradise to him. It describes the seasons gorgeously changing the landscape to their liking.

“A Mile High in Denver” was included in Buffett’s first album Down to Earth. The gorgeous views of Colorado must’ve stuck with him as he bought a house in Aspen, Colorado, later in his career. 

5. “Lucky Denver Mint” By Jimmy Eat World

After releasing their album Clarity in 1999, “Lucky Denver Mint” became Jimmy Eat World’s first hit. Its success is partially credited to its usage in Never Been Kissed, starring Drew Barrymore.

The song is about being lost, broke, and young with only the luck of a Denver Mint coin to keep them going.

The Denver Mint has been in operation under the United States Mint since 1906 and is where a large portion of American coins are made. In the coin-collecting world, coins from the Denver Mint are recognizable by a “D” stamp and are considered to be good luck.

6. “Denver Haircut” By The Hold Steady

Released in 2019, “Denver Haircut” is an alternative rock song by the Hold Steady about a man who meets a girl at a bar in a Denver airport. The man had just gotten his haircut at the same airport and reasonably didn’t feel himself. 

Nevertheless, the Denver woman brings him with her, sick of everyone else in town. After a wild night across the city, the man finds himself alone and lying on the carpet of a Residence Inn.

“Denver Haircut” is the first track of the Hold Steady’s album Thrashing Thru the Passion. Many of the other tracks on the album are similarly-themed character sketches.

7. “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” By Warren Zevon

Alternative rock song “Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead” is by Warren Zevon from the album Mr. Bad Example.

The song is believed to be about suicide, opening with a call to a friend about bad ideas in their head. It goes on to list everything one could do in Denver while dead, perhaps implying these are better done dead than alive. 

Zevon’s work inspired the 1995 movie of the same name, starring Andy García and Christopher Lloyd. The movie followed a retired gangster living in Denver who gets dragged back into the business.

It was also partially inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s “Lost in the Flood.”

8. “Commerce City Sister” By Devotchka

This indie punk song “Commerce City Sister” is by the Denver-based four-man band DeVotchKa. Unlike most of the songs on this list, this one is a bit sad. It is about never wanting to go to Commerce City again.

It opens with wanting to be comforted, then goes on to describe why. Apparently, the disheartened singer has lost everything from money to love within the said city’s limits.

After a long night of whiskey-drinking and leaving his friends at the landfill, all the singer wants to do is fall asleep in someone’s arms and feel safe.

9. “Colder Weather” By Zac Brown Band

A true country love ballad, “Colder Weather” tells the story of a man stuck on the road who longs to return to his loved one and his Colorado home.

After regretting pursuing his dreams, the driver makes his way back home. But after a little while back with his love, he longs to travel the cold roads again.

This song reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and was certified Platinum twice in the United States. According to co-writer Wyatt Durrette, “Colder Weather” was actually inspired by a woman who lived in Kansas, not Colorado.

10. “40 Miles From Denver” By Yonder Mountain String Band

Our last, but not the least, song is “40 Miles from Denver.” It is an upbeat bluegrass piece about Colorado’s Appalachian trails. The song describes leaving someone alone in bed in Denver and choosing the eastbound hiking trails over love and city life.

Banjo player Dave Johnston and singer Jeff Austin moved to Colorado in the late 1990s to further their bluegrass craft. In Colorado, Johnston and Austin met local guitarist Adam Aijala and bassist Ben Kaufmann. 

Together, the musicians formed the Yonder Mountain String Band and released “40 Miles from Denver” in 1999. Not surprisingly, Colorado is a sacred place for the entire band.

Summing Up Our List Of Songs To Do With Denver

From the Appalachian peaks to airport bars, these Denver-themed songs explore nearly every nook and cranny of this beautiful metropolitan area of Colorado.

Bob Seger’s “Get Out Of Denver” describes being rambunctiously driven out of town, while Willie Nelson’s “Denver” is about finding a reason to smile in the most unlikely of places.

Which Denver songs do you think best encapsulate the city? Which ones did we miss?

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.