About The Song
It was late in 1970, when Billy Danoff and Taffy Nivert were driving to a family reunion along Clopper Road in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland. To pass the time, the couple made up a song about winding roads in the country. The only problem was that the three syllables of Maryland did not fit the rhythm of the song. Danoff then thought that the four-syllable Massachusetts might work, but then, West Virginia would sound even better.
The fact that Danoff had never been to the state did not matter, and he just assumed that they had beautiful mountains and winding roads too. “I just thought the idea that I was hearing something so exotic to me from someplace as far away,” Danoff said. “West Virginia might as well have been in Europe, for all I know.”
At the time, Danoff and Nivert were both struggling musicians, but they were aiming to make it big in the industry by writing a hit song for more prominent artists. Until one day, they opened for Denver at a club called Cellar Door in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. After the show, the couple hanged out with Denver. They played “Take Me Home, Country Roads” to Denver, and he absolutely loved it. The trio stayed up until six in the morning, re-writing and re-arranging the song until they created a masterpiece.
John Denver first sang the song at the Cellar Door on December 30, 1970, and the country legend received a five-minute standing ovation. “When we first sang the song together,” said Danoff, “it seemed as though the audience would never stop applauding. Next show, same thing. We knew we had a hit.”
Denver then went on to record “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on the album “Poems, Prayers & Promises.” It was released in the spring of 1971 — and the rest is history.
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” was a hit almost from the moment it premiered. It peaked at No. 2 on Billboard‘s U.S. Hot 100 singles after its release on April 12, 1971. By August 1971, the song was already certified gold for shipping more than a million copies. Of course, the beauty and pride expressed in the classic song was an immediate hit in West Virginia too.
In 1972, West Virginia University in Morgantown started using the classic song as a pre-football game anthem. The song is also played in other athletic events and university functions, as well as after football games. The fans are then encouraged to stay in the stands to sing the song along with the team. Any native of the Mountain State can attest how West Virginians love John Denver’s song natives. It’s quite impossible for anyone to be driving across the state line without belting its chorus. The state has even included the song’s lyrics in its official slogan. So it’s no longer a surprise when the song became one of the four official state anthems of West Virginia in 2014.
Almost heaven, West VirginiaBlue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River Life is old there, older than the trees Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breezeCountry roads, take me homeTo the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roadsAll my memories gather ’round herMiner’s lady, stranger to blue water Dark and dusty, painted on the sky Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eyeCountry roads, take me homeTo the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roadsI hear her voice in the mornin’ hour, she calls meThe radio reminds me of my home far away Drivin’ down the road, I get a feelin’ That I should’ve been home yesterday, yesterdayCountry roads, take me homeTo the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roadsCountry roads, take me homeTo the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roadsTake me home, (down) country roadsTake me home, (down) country roads