Take Me Home, Country Roads

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" is a song written by John Denver, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert, and initially recorded by singer John Denver. It was included on his 1971 breakout album Poems, Prayers and Promises; the single went to #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

John Denver was sharing the bill at folk club called the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C. with Denoff and Nivert, who worked together under the name of Fat City. After opening night, the three piled into Denoff's car and headed back to his place for an impromptu jam. On the way, there was a crash, and Denver's thumb was broken. 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."

Denoff and Nivert then told him about a song they'd been working on for about a month. The inspiration had come while they'd been driving to a family reunion of Nivert's relatives in nearby Maryland. To pass the time en route, Denoff 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. The second verse of the tune was a bit risqué -- referring to naked ladies and such -- so the duo reckoned that their song would never get played on the radio.

They sang it for Denver and, as he recalled, "I flipped." The three stayed up until 6 a.m., changing words and moving lines around. When they finished, John announced that the song had to go on his next album … and it did.

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" appeared on the LP Poems, Prayers, and Promises and was released as a 45 in the spring of 1971. It broke nationally in mid-April, but moved up the charts very slowly. After several weeks, RCA 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 it was certified a million-seller.

The song is the theme song of West Virginia University and has been performed at every home football pre-game show since 1972. In 1980, Denver performed his hit song during pre-game festivities to a sold-out crowd of Mountaineer fans. This performance marked the dedication of Mountaineer Field and the first game for head coach Don Nehlen. In fact, the song is played at virtually all athletic events and many other university functions. It is played after the football team wins at home, upon which the fans are encouraged to stay in the stands and sing the song along with the team. It has also been played after WVU Men's Basketball victories.

The song has been embraced by West Virginia as a de facto state anthem[citation needed], although it has no official status as a state song.

Curiously, the land features mentioned prominently in the song lyrics -- the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains -- actually have only very marginal associations with the state of West Virginia, and would seem to be more appropriate for Virginia. The river passes through only the very eastern tip of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Similarly, the vast majority of the Blue Ridge also lies outside the state.

According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road that inspired the song is nowhere near the state. It is a road close to her native Washington, D.C., in near-by Montgomery County, Maryland where John Denver often visited. Clopper Road, still exists today, but the landscape has changed drastically from the bucolic landscape that once surrounded it.

Aleksander Me~ek recorded a Slovenian adaptation of the song as Siva pot (The gray path), in which the praise is changed to being for the Slovenian region Gorenjska, instead of West Virginia. This adaptation was recorded again by the Sloveno-Croatian Yugo-pop band Mambo Kings, whose cover added two fake verses: one imitating the Hungarian language, and the other imitating the Japanese language.

Toots & the Maytals recorded a reggae version in which the lyrics are altered to describe Jamaica: "Almost heaven, West Jamaica," for instance, replaces Denver's "West Virginia."

Olivia Newton-John recorded a cover version in 1973 that reached #15 in the UK but failed to chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Ray Charles recorded a cover version which can be found on the 2002 album Ray Charles Sings for America.

Whisper of the Heart is a Studio Ghibli anime that uses "Take Me Home, Country Roads" as a plot device with several renditions in Japanese.

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (Bruddah Iz) recorded a cover version of the song, with the lyrics changed to describe his native Hawaii.

Pavel Bobek, a Czech country singer recorded a cover of the song as well. The titled he used was "Veď mě dál, cesto má" (which could be roughly translated as "Lead me on, my road"). The lyrics suggested the path of life ending in death, rather than being an anthem.

The song was used in the American Dad episode "American Dream Factory".

The song was also used in the Prison Break episode "First Down".

A rap cover of the song is used with altered lyrics at the start of each New York Knicks home game as well as on television commercials for the team.

During football matches, supporters of Manchester United Football Club sing an adapted version of the song, titled United Road (Take Me Home).Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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