Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Song of the Day: Leaving On A Jet Plane

Since I'm about to be leaving on a jet plane, you can take a wild guess as to which tune is the featured Song of the Day. Unlike these lyrics, I thankfully know when I'm coming back, but the posting will be a little quiet for just a week or two. Written by folk singer John Denver, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" was originally recorded in 1967 by the Chad Mitchell Trio (of which the then unknown Denver had replaced Mitchell two years prior), and later that year, this song was always recorded by Spanky & Our Gang (which I really wanted to post their version too but it's not on YouTube). Peter, Paul, & Mary also released a version on their album that same year, but it didn't become a big hit until they released it as a single in 1969. For this famous folk trio, it turned out to be their biggest (and final) hit, becoming their only #1 hit on the US Billboard chart. It also topped the easy listening chart for three weeks. In the late '70s, the song was used in United Airlines commercials. Here's a live performance by Peter, Paul, & Mary in Melbourne, Australia in 1968 (the sound quality is a not so great at the beginning but does improve for the rest of the song).   

John Denver later went on to have a successful solo career and was one of the most popular acoustic acts in the 1970s. Here's also another live version featuring Denver and Cass Elliot (of The Mamas & The Papas) on The Midnight Special in the early '70s. Their voices blend really well in this lovely tune. (And no jokes now about the fact that Denver died while flying his personal plane in the late '90s).

Wow, sorry to end on such a melancholy note, but I'm be back soon.


  1. How and when did Janis Joplin come to sing it? Did she record it?

    1. There seems to be no evidence that Janis Joplin sang this song. While there are a few YouTube videos mislabeled as Janis Joplin singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane," this is not THE Janis Joplin of the 1960s (who passed away in 1970). This seems to be a newer cover, possibly by a current singer of the same name?

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