John Denver / Shanghai Breezes [1982] (HQ) - YouTube

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About the song

John Denver’s Shanghai Breezes, a song that evokes a sense of gentle longing and the enduring power of love across distance. Released in 1982 on Denver’s album Seasons of the Heart, it became his fifteenth and final Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But its legacy extends far beyond chart success.

Shanghai Breezes marks a slight departure from Denver’s usual focus on wide-open landscapes and environmental themes. Here, he paints a more intimate picture, using the evocative imagery of a foreign city to express his feelings for a loved one who is far away. The song is a testament to Denver’s remarkable ability to connect with his audience through relatable emotions, even when placed in an unfamiliar setting.

The title itself piques curiosity. Shanghai, a bustling metropolis in China, wasn’t a typical subject for American folk singers in the early 1980s. Denver, however, had a lifelong fascination with travel and different cultures. Some speculate he may have visited Shanghai, but there’s no concrete evidence. Regardless, the city becomes a metaphor for his emotional state – a place both foreign and captivating.

The melody is classic John Denver. It’s a gentle, lilting folk ballad with a touch of country influence. The acoustic guitar provides a warm bed for Denver’s signature baritone vocals, which deliver the lyrics with a sincerity that resonates deeply. The chorus, with its repeated line “Shanghai breezes, cool and clearing, evening’s sweet caress,” is particularly memorable. It paints a vivid picture of a calming breeze washing away the worries of the day, a feeling many listeners can undoubtedly relate to.

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Lyrically, the song is a beautiful expression of love that transcends physical separation. The narrator, presumably Denver himself, is in Shanghai, likely for work or travel. He’s surrounded by a new and unfamiliar environment, yet all he can think about is his love back home. The Shanghai breezes become a tangible connection between him and his beloved. He finds comfort in the fact that they’re both looking at the same moon and stars, bathed in the light of the same sun. Distance may separate them physically, but their love remains a constant source of solace.

Shanghai Breezes is not just a love song, however. It’s also a subtle exploration of the human yearning for connection. Being in a foreign land can be a lonely experience, and Denver captures that feeling perfectly. The song reminds us that even when we feel isolated, the power of love can bridge any gap.

Whether you’ve ever been to Shanghai or not, Shanghai Breezes has the power to transport you. It’s a song that speaks to the universal human experience of love, longing, and the enduring strength of the human spirit.

Video

Lyrics

“Shanghai Breezes”

It’s funny how you sound as if you’re right next door when you’re really half a world away.
I just can’t seem to find the words I’m looking for to say the things that I want to say.
I can’t remember when I felt so close to you, it’s almost more than I can bear.

And though I seem a half a million miles from you, you are in my heart and living there.
And the moon and the stars are the same ones you see, it’s the same old sun up in the sky.
And your voice in my ear is like heaven to me like the breezes here in old Shanghai.

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There are lovers who walk hand in hand in the park and lovers who walk all alone.
There are lovers who lie unafraid in the dark and lovers who long for home.
Oh, I couldn’t leave you even if I wanted to, you’re in my dreams and always near.

And especially when I sing the songs I wrote for you, you are in my heart and living there.
And the moon and the stars are the same ones you see, it’s the same old sun up in the sky.
And your face in my dreams is like heaven to me just like the breezes here in old Shanghai.

Shanghai breezes, cool and clearing, evening’s sweet caress.
Shanghai breezes, soft and gentle, remind me of your tenderness.
And the moon and the stars are the same ones you see, it’s the same old sun up in the sky.

And your love in my life is like heaven to me, like the breezes here in old Shanghai.
And the moon and the stars are the same ones you see, it’s the same old sun up in the sky.
And your love in my life is like heaven to me, like the breezes here in old Shanghai.
Just like the breezes here in old Shanghai