‘‘Take Me Home, Country Roads,’’ which branded West Virginia ‘‘almost heaven,’’ has been one of the most popular songs about the state since its release in 1971 by singer John Denver. The song was completed on the night after Christmas in 1970 by Denver and his friends Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert of the Fat City Band, and was first performed by its writers as an encore at a Washington club the next evening. First released as a single, ‘‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’’ climbed the charts, eventually reaching number two and remaining in the top 40 for 14 weeks. The song was included on Denver’s ‘‘Poems, Prayers, and Promises’’ album, and before the year’s end both the single and the album had gone gold.
Denver performed ‘‘Country Roads’’ in West Virginia on several occasions, notably for the opening of the new Mountaineer Stadium in Morgantown in 1980 and on a telethon broadcast statewide from the Cultural Center in Charleston to benefit the victims of the disastrous 1985 floods. A popular arrangement of ‘‘Country Roads’’ by Dr. James Miltenberger is regularly performed by the West Virginia University Mountaineer Marching Band as part of its pre-game activities. In 1999, the state secured the rights to use ‘‘Country Roads’’ to promote tourism in West Virginia. Like other songs about West Virginia, ‘‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’’ emphasizes love of homeplace and is proudly sung throughout the state.
This Article was written by H. G. Young III
Burnside, Mary Wade. Take Me Home. Charleston Gazette, 8/5/1999.
Denver, John, Bill Danoff & Taffy Danoff. "Take Me Home, Country Roads." Port Chester, NY Cherry Lane Music, 1971.
Denver, John. Poems, Prayers, and Promises. RCA recording 0445, 1971. reissued on CD, RCA 5189-2-R.