John Denver has co-written “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with his friends Bill and Taffy Danoff, who were married during those times. Denver helped to finish the song and the next night they sang it together on stage. Denver knew he had a hit song on his hands and brought the Danoffs to New York where they record the song together.
Take Me Home, Country Roads: The Composition
The Country Roads in the song are in West Virginia, however, Denver had never even been to West Virginia.
The couple Bill and Taffy Danoff started writing the song while driving to Maryland. Just like John Denver, they haven’t even been to West Virginia. So the inspiration came from a postcard that was sent to the Danoffs from a friend who actually lives in West Virginia.
In addition to the inspiration of the song was a powerful AM station WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia. Bill just picked up the radio station in Massachusetts when he was growing up.
Bill Danoff said in an interview in 2011:
I just thought the idea that I was hearing something so exotic to me from someplace as far away. West Virginia might as well have been in Europe, for all I knew.
The Danoffs were in a band called Fat City at the time they wrote this. They later formed the Starland Vocal Band, who had a big hit with “Afternoon Delight” in 1977. There was some speculation that Denver somehow screwed the Danoffs when he became famous and they remained in obscurity, but the couple always defended Denver in interviews, pointing out that he brought Fat City on tour and helped them get a record deal with his RCA/Windsong Records. Denver also recorded several other songs Bill Danoff wrote.
The Song’s Success
“Take Me Home, Country Road” was released as a single in the spring of 1971. It broke nationally in mid-April. However, it moved up the charts very slowly, as John Denver was a little-known singer. To this point, Denver’s biggest success was writing “Leaving On A Jet Plane”. Denver pushed RCA records to keep promoting “Take Me Home Country Roads”. Their persistence paid off when it became a huge hit that summer. It was Denver’s first hit, and the first of 13 US Top 40 hits he scored in the ’70s.