Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver with Fat City is a country rock song.
Song Title: Country Roads
Artist: John Denver
Album: Poems, Prayers & Promises
Genre: country, country rock, country pop, folk
Composer: Copyright © 1970 Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, John Denver
Lead Vocals: John Denver
Acoustic Guitar: John Denver
Steel Guitar: Eric Weissberg
Banjo: Eric Weissberg
Drums: Gary Chester
Percussion: Gary Chester
Double Bass: Richard Kniss
Producer: Milton Okun, Susan Ruskin
Released: 12 April 1971
Format: 7" 45-rpm vinyl, 12" vinyl, maxi, CD, digital download, cassette single, DataPlay single
Christian Science Monitor #18 best country song of all time.
Number of listens: 1517
Summary quotation from Wikipedia:
Take Me Home, Country Roads is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver, and initially recorded by John Denver. It was included on his 1971 breakout album Poems, Prayers & Promises; the single went to number 1 on the Record World Pop Singles Chart and the Cash Box Top 100, and number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, topped only by How Can You Mend a Broken Heart by The Bee Gees. It became one of John Denvers most popular and beloved songs, and is still very popular around the world. It is considered to be Denvers signature song. It also has a prominent status as an iconic symbol of West Virginia, which it describes as almost Heaven; for example, it was played at the funeral memorial for U.S. Senator Robert Byrd in July 2010.
Starting December 22, 1970, John Denver was heading the bill at The Cellar Door, a Washington, D.C. club. Danoff and Nivert opened for him as a duo named Fat City. After the Tuesday post-Christmas re-opening night (Cellar Door engagements ran from Tuesday to Sunday, and this booking was for two weeks), the three headed back to their place for an impromptu jam. On the way, Denvers left thumb was broken in an automobile accident. He was taken to the hospital, where a splint was applied. By the time they got back to the house, he was, in his own words, wired, you know.
Danoff and Nivert then told him about a song that they had been working on for about a month. Inspiration had come while driving to a family reunion of Niverts relatives in nearby Maryland. To pass the time en route, Danoff had made up a ballad about the little winding roads they were taking. Later, he changed the story to fit that of an artist friend, who used to write to him about the splendors of the West Virginia countryside.
Originally, Danoff and Nivert had planned to sell the song to popular country singer Johnny Cash, but when Denver heard the song and decided he had to have it, the duo who wrote the original lyrics decided not to make the sale.
They sang the song for Denver and as he recalled, I flipped. The three stayed up until 6:00 a.m., changing words and moving lines around. When they finished, John announced that the song had to go on his next album.
The song was premiered December 30, 1970, during an encore of Denvers set, the singers reading the words from a folded piece of paper. This resulted in a five-minute ovation, one of the longest in Cellar Door history. They recorded it in New York City in January 1971.
Danoff and his then-wife, Mary (Taffy) Nivert, wrote I Guess Hed Rather Be in Colorado and Take Me Home, Country Roads, both of which were hits for John Denver. The latter song was adopted as an official state song by the West Virginia Legislature on March 7, 2014, alongside three other pieces: West Virginia Hills, This is My West Virginia, and West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home. Danoff (from Springfield, Massachusetts) has stated he had never been in West Virginia before co-writing the song. He had even briefly considered using Massachusetts rather than West Virginia, as both four-syllable state names would have fit the songs meter. Denver recorded about a dozen Danoff compositions from 1972 through the end of his career.
Take Me Home, Country Roads appeared on the LP Poems, Prayers & Promises and was released as a 45 in the spring of 1971. Original pressings credited the single to John Denver with Fat City. It broke nationally in mid-April, but moved up the charts very slowly. After several weeks, RCA Records called John and told him that they were giving up on the single. His response: No! Keep working on it! They did, and on August 18, 1971, it was certified Gold by the RIAA for a million copies shipped. It has also sold an additional 1,142,000 downloads since it became available digitally.
Reception in West Virginia
Take Me Home, Country Roads received an enthusiastic response from West Virginians. The song is the theme song of West Virginia University and has been performed at every home football pre-game show since 1972. In 1977 Denver played for Morgantown High School and even changed the wording to Appalachian Mountains, Monongahela River. In 1980, Denver performed the song during pregame festivities to a sold-out crowd of Mountaineer fans. This performance marked the dedication of the current Mountaineer Field and the first game for then head coach Don Nehlen. The song is played for other athletic events and university functions, including after football games, for which the fans are encouraged to stay in the stands and sing the song along with the team.
The popularity of the song has inspired resolutions in the West Virginia Legislature to change the state song of West Virginia to Take Me Home, Country Roads. On March 7, 2014, the West Virginia Legislature approved a resolution to make Take Me Home, Country Roads the official state song of West Virginia. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resolution into law on March 8.
The land features mentioned prominently in the song lyrics the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains have only marginal associations with the state of West Virginia, and would seem to be more appropriate to describe western Virginia. The river passes through only the very eastern tip of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in Jefferson County. Similarly, the vast majority of the Blue Ridge also lies outside the state, only crossing into West Virginia in Jefferson County. According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road is close to her native Washington, D.C., and nearby Montgomery County, Maryland, where Denver often visited. Clopper Road still exists today, but the landscape has changed drastically from the bucolic scenery that once surrounded it.
Hillary Rodham Clinton quoted the song in the opening line of her speech following her massive win in the 2008 West Virginia Democratic primary, stating: You know, like the song says, Its almost heaven.
Thomas, West Virginia based brewery, Mountain State Brewing Company, produces an amber ale called Almost Heaven named after John Denvers ode to West Virginia, Country Roads.
The song was played at the funeral memorial for Senator Robert Byrd at the state capitol in Charleston on July 2, 2010.
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