About the song

Ah, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver. A true titan of American folk music, Denver carved a niche for himself in the early 1970s with his wholesome persona and songs that celebrated nature, simple living, and a sense of nostalgia. Released in 1971, “Country Roads” quickly transcended its status as a mere song, becoming an anthem for West Virginia and a powerful symbol of yearning for home.

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But the song’s origins hold a surprising twist. While “Country Roads” has become synonymous with the rolling hills and hollers of West Virginia, songwriters Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert actually penned it while residing in Maryland, neither having ever set foot in West Virginia themselves. Their inspiration stemmed from a longing for a place they hadn’t been, a sentiment Denver – a native Kansan – readily connected with.

The beauty of “Country Roads” lies in its ability to capture a universal feeling of displacement and a yearning for belonging. The opening lines, with their gentle fingerpicking guitar and Denver’s warm baritone, paint a vivid picture:

“Almost heaven, West Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River”

Even for listeners unfamiliar with West Virginia’s specific geography, the imagery evokes a sense of idyllic beauty – a haven far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The lyrics then take a poignant turn:

“Life is old there, older than the trees Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze”

This line hints at a yearning for a simpler time, a place untouched by the complexities of the modern world. The speaker, perhaps a young person venturing out into the world, longs for the comfort and familiarity of home.

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The chorus, with its infectious melody and singalong quality, truly cements the song’s enduring appeal:

“Country roads, take me home To the place I belong West Virginia, mountain mama Take me home, country roads”

The repetition of “Country roads, take me home” underscores the intensity of this desire. It’s a plea not just for a physical location, but for a sense of security and belonging.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” wasn’t an immediate smash hit. Released in 1971 on Denver’s album “Poems, Prayers & Promises,” it took several months to climb the charts, eventually peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the song’s popularity soared in the decades that followed. Its adoption as the official state song of West Virginia in 1985 solidified its status as a cultural touchstone.

Today, “Country Roads” transcends its folk origins. It’s a song covered by countless artists across genres, a mainstay at sporting events, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at any karaoke night. But at its core, it remains a testament to the universal human desire for home, a place where we can truly be ourselves and find solace.

Video

Lyrics

“Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

All my memories gather round her, miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky, misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye

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Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

I hear her voice in the morning hour, she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

Take me home, down country roads
Take me home, down country roads