With so many fresh-faced artists emerging in the country music scene at present, it’s hard not to miss some of the previous country songs that we have come to love. These songs have either shaped our childhood days or defined a specific point in our lives—whether good or bad. There are country tunes remembered because of the artist that brought life to it, or because of the strong, melancholic and at times out-of-the-box approach that it conveys to the listeners.
This time, we reminisce a song that is lighthearted, positively received by the audience, and also one that became the official state song of West Virginia.
Take Me Home, Country Roads is a hugely beloved hit that was released in August 1971. It was written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver. Upon its initial release, the song became an instant hit that it became a certified Gold on August 18, 1971, by the RIAA and was also certified Platinum earlier this year on April 10. Earning such massive worldwide fame, Take Me Home, Country Roads was soon added to the list of official state songs that represented West Virginia.
According to Danoff, one of the song’s writers, he had never been to West Virginia at the time that the tune was still being written. There was even a time where he originally thought of using “Massachusetts” instead of “West Virginia” for the lyrics. Both perfectly fit the meter for the song due to having four syllables. He shares that he took inspiration for the song during a trip to a family reunion of one of his then-wife Taffy Nivert’s relatives. He was driving to Clopper Road in nearby Maryland when he took notice of the little winding roads that took them to their destination. As they traveled, he had already made up a ballad in the back of his head.
Danoff and Nivert first met John Denver in a club in Washington D.C. called, The Cellar Door. The duo told Denver of a song they had been working on for a month, something which they originally intended to sell to Johnny Cash. But when Denver got to hear Take Me Home, Country Roads, he immediately grew fond of the song and decided that he wanted to have it.
And so the three spent grueling hours revising the words and rearranging lines until they finally reached its final, perfect form. The song was included on John Denver’s next album that time. On January 1971, the song was finally recorded in New York City.
The audience, especially the West Virginians gave their warmest of welcomes to the tune after it first raved the radio waves. Even the critics had nothing but kind, beautiful words to depict the homey melody of Country Roads. Several versions of the song had been produced by artists, along with football clubs left and right that switched the lyrics to fit their hometown or state. It was also featured in the animated film, Whisper of the Heart.