Take Me Home, Country Roads

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Take Me Home, Country Roads

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
John Denver with Fat City take me home country roads 1971 A-side US vinyl.jpg
Side A of the US single
Single by John Denver
from the album Poems, Prayers & Promises
"Poems, Prayers and Promises"
ReleasedApril 12, 1971 (1971-04-12)
RecordedJanuary 1971, New York City
John Denver singles chronology
"Friends With You"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" (audio) on YouTube

"Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known simply as "Take Me Home" or "Country Roads", is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and John Denver about West Virginia. It was released as a single performed by Denver on April 12, 1971, peaking at number two on Billboards US Hot 100 singles for the week ending August 28, 1971. The song was a success on its initial release and was certified Gold by the RIAA on August 18, 1971, and Platinum on April 10, 2017.[2] The song became one of John Denver's most popular and beloved songs. It has continued to sell, with over 1.6 million digital copies sold in the United States.[3]

The song has a prominent status as an iconic symbol of West Virginia, which it describes as "Almost Heaven". In March 2014, it became one of the four official state anthems of West Virginia.


Inspiration for the title line had come while Nivert and Danoff, who were married, were driving along Clopper Road in Montgomery County, Maryland to a Nivert family gathering in Gaithersburg, with Nivert behind the wheel while Danoff played his guitar. "I just started thinking, country roads, I started thinking of me growing up in western new England and going on all these small roads," Danoff said. "It didn't have anything to do with Maryland or anyplace."[4]

To Danoff, the lyric "(t)he radio reminds me of my home far away" in the bridge is quintessentially West Virginian, an allusion to when he listened to the program Saturday Night Jamboree, broadcast from Wheeling, West Virginia, on WWVA at his home in Springfield, Massachusetts during his childhood in the 1950s.[5]

Danoff had some other West Virginia associations to draw from as well. He became friends with actor Chris Sarandon as well as a group of hippies from a West Virginia commune who used to sit in the front row of the little clubs in which his groups used to play:[5] "They brought their dogs and were a very colorful group of folks, but that is how West Virginia began creeping into the song," Danoff said. He briefly considered using his home state of "Massachusetts", rather than "West Virginia", as both four-syllable state names would have fit the song's meter. "I didn't want to write about Massachusetts because I didn't think the word was musical. And the Bee Gees, of course, had a hit record called "Massachusetts", but what did I know?" Danoff said.[5]

Starting December 22, 1970, Denver was heading the New Year's bill at The Cellar Door, with Fat City opening for him, just as Denver had opened at the same club for then headliner David Steinberg. After the club's post-Christmas reopening night on Tuesday, December 29 (Cellar Door engagements ran from Tuesday to Sunday and this booking was for two weeks), the three headed back to the couple's apartment for an impromptu jam. On the way, Denver's left thumb was broken in a collision. He was rushed to the emergency room, where the thumb was put in a splint. By the time they got back to the apartment, he was, in his own words, "wired, you know."[]

When Danoff and Nivert ran through what they had of the song they had been working on for about a month, planning to sell to Johnny Cash, Denver "flipped." He decided he had to have it, prompting them to abandon plans for the sale.[] The verses and chorus were still missing a bridge, so the three of them went about finishing.

Nivert got out an encyclopedia to learn a little more about West Virginia, and the first thing that came upon was the Rhododendron, the state flower, so she kept trying to work the word Rhododendron into the song. Rhododendron was the title that Nivert had written down on the lyric sheet, which they later sent to ASCAP.[5] The three stayed up until 6:00 a.m., changing words and moving lines around.[6]

The geographical features named in the first verse of the lyrics - Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River - which are more prominent in the state of Virginia than in West Virginia, can be found in Jefferson County, West Virginia.[7]

When they finished, on the morning of Wednesday, December 30, 1970, Denver announced that the song had to go on his next album.[6] Later that night, during Denver's first set, Denver called his two collaborators back to the spotlight, where the trio changed their career trajectories, reading the lyrics from a single, handheld, unfolded piece of paper. The resulting ovation is said to have been five minutes long and was certainly one of the longest in Cellar Door history.[] The next day was Denver's 28th birthday. They recorded it in New York City in January 1971.

Commercial performance

"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 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.

On August 18, 1971, it was certified Gold by the RIAA for a million copies shipped.[8] The song continued to sell in the digital era. As of January 2020, the song has also sold 1,591,000 downloads since it became available digitally.[3]

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 it has been performed during every home football pregame show since 1972.

On September 6, 1980, at the invitation of West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller, songwriters Danoff, Nivert, and Denver performed the song during pregame festivities to a sold-out crowd of Mountaineer fans. This performance marked the dedication of the current West Virginia University Mountaineer Field and the first game for head coach Don Nehlen.[9]

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.[10]

The song was played at the funeral for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd at the state capitol in Charleston, West Virginia on July 2, 2010.[11]

The popularity of the song has inspired resolutions in the West Virginia Legislature to adopt "Take Me Home, Country Roads" as an official state song. On March 7, 2014, the West Virginia Legislature approved a resolution to make "Take Me Home, Country Roads" an official state song of West Virginia, alongside three other pieces: "West Virginia Hills", "This Is My West Virginia", and "West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home".[12] Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resolution into law on March 8, 2014.[13]

On November 1, 2017, the West Virginia Tourism Office announced it had obtained the rights to use "Take Me Home, Country Roads", in its marketing efforts. "'Country Roads' has become synonymous with West Virginia all over the world," said West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. "It highlights everything we love about our state: scenic beauty, majestic mountains, a timeless way of life, and most of all, the warmth of a place that feels like home whether you've lived here forever or are just coming to visit." The opening phrase of the song, "Almost heaven", became a primary tourism office slogan.[14]

The Mountain State Brewing Company based in Thomas, West Virginia produces an amber ale named "Almost Heaven," which it says is "named after John Denver's ode to West Virginia, Country Roads".[15]



Chart (1971) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[16] 3
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[17] 5
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[18] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 2
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[20] 3
US Hot Country Singles (Billboard)[21] 50


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[22] Gold 25,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[23] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[2] Platinum 1,591,000[3]

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions

Hermes House Band version

"Country Roads"
Single by Hermes House Band
from the album The Album
ReleasedMay 21, 2001 (2001-05-21)
  • XPLO Music (Netherlands, UK)
  • various (international)
  • Jim Binapfl
  • John Lehmkuhl
  • Mark Snijders
  • Jack Buck
Hermes House Band singles chronology
"Disco Samba Part II"
"Country Roads"
"Que Sera Sera"

Dutch pop band Hermes House Band covered the song and released it as "Country Roads". This version was first released in Germany on May 21, 2001,[24] and was issued in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2001, where it was a contender for the 2001 Christmas number-one single.[25] This version was a chart success in Europe, reaching number one in Scotland, number two in Germany and Ireland, and the top 10 in Austria, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

Track listings

Dutch CD single[26]
1."Country Roads" (original radio edit)3:22
2."Country Roads" (happy dance version)3:20
Belgian CD single[27]
1."Country Roads" (original radio edit)3:22
2."Country Roads" (happy dance version)3:20
3."Country Roads" (karaoke version)3:20
European and Australian maxi-single[28][29]
1."Country Roads" (original live radio version)3:22
2."Country Roads" (original radio version)3:22
3."Country Roads" (dance radio version)3:20
4."Country Roads" (happy party radio version)3:20
5."Country Roads" (original live extended version)4:24
6."Country Roads" (dance extended version)4:14
7."Country Roads" (happy party extended version)4:26
UK enhanced CD single[30]
1."Country Roads" (original radio version)3:22
2."Country Roads" (original live extended version)4:24
3."Country Roads" (dance extended version)4:14
4."Country Roads" (video)3:22
UK cassette single[31]
1."Country Roads" (original radio version)3:22
2."Country Roads" (original live extended version)4:24
3."Country Roads" (original dance extended version)4:14



Certifications and sales for "Country Roads"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany (BVMI)[49] Platinum 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[50] Silver 200,000double-dagger

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Olivia Newton-John version

Olivia Newton-John recorded a cover version in 1973 that reached the number 6 in Japan and the number 15 in the UK.[51]

Lynn Anderson version

Country music singer Lynn Anderson recorded a version of the song on her 1971 studio album How Can I Unlove You which reached the number 2 position on the Top Country Albums chart -- one of the most successful albums Anderson released during her career.

Fallout 76 version

A cover version of the song, a collaboration between Copilot Music and Sound and the vocal group Spank,[52] was commissioned for and featured in both the teaser and full E3 2018 trailers for the 2018 video game Fallout 76, with its plot events are set in West Virginia.[53] Released as an iTunes-only single on July 4, 2018, the song reached No. 1 on the iTunes singles chart.[54] It debuted at No. 41 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart that week and at No. 21 on Billboard's Country Digital Songs the following week.[54] The official YouTube upload of the original John Denver recording, initially uploaded in 2013, would later edit its description in response to the song's use for the game.[55] In Australia, a promotional Fallout 76 vinyl featuring the cover was included with the December 2018 issue of STACK Magazine exclusively from retailer JB Hi-Fi.[56]

Chart (2018) Peak
US Country Digital Songs (Billboard)[54] 21
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[54] 41


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  3. ^ a b c Bjorke, Matt (January 25, 2020). "Top 30 Digital Country Downloads: January 24, 2020". Rough Stock. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ Segraves, Mark (December 30, 2020). "Co-Writer of 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' Dispels Myths Surrounding Song's Origins". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d "Take Me Home, Country Roads". WVUSports.com. January 29, 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ a b Collis, John (September 30, 2011). John Denver: Mother Nature's Son. Mainstream Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-78057-330-4.
  7. ^ "Physiographic Provinces of West Virginia". Retrieved 2018.
  8. ^ "American certifications - John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Road". Recording Industry Association of America.
  9. ^ "Country Roads-John Denver WVU 1980 Introduction and Full Song (Audio)". YouTube. July 8, 2013. Retrieved 2018. John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert performing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" at the opening of West Virginia University's Mountaineer Field September 6, 1980. This audio recording includes the introduction by John Denver followed by the full song as recorded by WVAQ with Jack Fleming announcing.
  10. ^ "Welcome To | WVU Traditions | West Virginia University". Welcometo.wvu.edu. November 3, 2009. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011.
  11. ^ Garcia, Jon (July 2, 2010). "Eulogizing Sen. Robert Byrd: The Hard Working, if Imperfect, Senator". ABC News. Archived from the original on July 5, 2010.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 8, 2014. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "WV Tourism obtains rights to use John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads'". West Virginia Press. November 1, 2017. Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ "Brews". Mountainstatebrewing.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  16. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7580." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. September 4, 1971.
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  18. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 5339." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 14, 1971.
  19. ^ "John Denver Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
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  22. ^ "Italian single certifications - John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Roads" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
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  26. ^ Country Roads (Dutch CD single disc notes). Hermes House Band. XPLO Music. 2001. 0133636ERE.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  27. ^ Country Roads (Belgian CD single liner notes). Hermes House Band. ARS Productions. 2001. scd 740635-5.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  28. ^ Country Roads (European maxi-single liner notes). Hermes House Band. XPLO Music. 2001. 74321 89745 2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  29. ^ Country Roads (Australian maxi-single liner notes). Hermes House Band. Hussle Recordings. 2001. PORNCD5004.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  30. ^ Country Roads (UK enhanced CD single liner notes). Hermes House Band. XPLO Music, Liberty Records. 2001. 7243 5 50234 0 7.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  31. ^ Country Roads (UK cassette single sleeve). Hermes House Band. XPLO Music. 2001. 7243 5 50234 4 5.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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  34. ^ "Danishcharts.com - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". Tracklisten.
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  36. ^ "The Irish Charts - Search Results - Country Roads". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  37. ^ "Top 10 Dance Singles, Week Ending 11 October 2001". GfK Chart-Track. Retrieved 2019.[dead link]
  38. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - week 1, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  39. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl - Hermes House Band - Country Roads" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  40. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  41. ^ "Swedishcharts.com - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". Singles Top 100.
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  51. ^ https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/20590/olivia-newton-john/
  52. ^ Hines, Pete (July 4, 2018). "IT'S FINALLY HERE. Download Country Roads cover now. It was recorded by our friends at CoPilot with a group out of New York called Spank. You've never heard of them, but maybe seen them performing on the streets of New York". Twitter. Retrieved 2021.
  53. ^ Kuchera, Ben (June 11, 2018). "Fallout 76 has everyone humming John Denver". Polygon. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved 2018.
  54. ^ a b c d Hampp, Andrew (July 31, 2018). "Songs for Screens: How a John Denver Classic Resurfaced Thanks to 'Fallout 76'". Variety. Retrieved 2018.
  55. ^ "John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Roads (Audio)". YouTube. April 5, 2013. Retrieved 2018. John Denver's official audio for 'Take Me Home, Country Roads', as featured on Fallout 76.
  56. ^ Kolbe, Alesha (December 3, 2018). "Grab a FREE Fallout 76 vinyl with this month's STACK Magazine". stack.com.au. Archived from the original on December 5, 2018. Retrieved 2018.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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