Country Roads
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Country Roads
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
John Denver with Fat City take me home country roads 1971 A-side US vinyl.jpg
Single by John Denver
from the album Poems, Prayers & Promises
Released April 12, 1971 (1971-04-12)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 1971
Genre Country[1]
Length 3:17
Label RCA
John Denver singles chronology
"Friends With You"
(1971)
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
(1971)
"Everyday"
(1972)
Audio
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" (audio) on YouTube

"Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known as "Country Roads, Take Me Home" or "Country Roads", is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver. It was released as a single performed by Denver on April 12, 1971, peaking at number 2 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 a million digital copies sold in the United States.[3] It is considered to be Denver's signature song.[4]

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 several official state anthems of West Virginia.

Background

Composition

Danoff and his then-wife, Mary ("Taffy") Nivert, wrote "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado" and "Take Me Home, Country Roads", both of which were hits for John Denver. Danoff (from Springfield, Massachusetts) has stated he had never been to West Virginia before co-writing the song.[5] Inspiration for the song had come while driving to a family reunion of Nivert's relatives along Clopper Road[6] in nearby Maryland. To pass the time en route, Danoff had made up a ballad about the little winding roads they were taking. He had even briefly considered using "Massachusetts" rather than "West Virginia" as both four-syllable state names would have fit the song's meter.

Starting December 22, 1970, John Denver was heading the bill at The Cellar Door, a Washington, D.C. club. Danoff and Nivert opened for him as a duo named Fat City. After the Tuesday post-Christmas re-opening night (Cellar Door engagements ran from Tuesday to Sunday and this booking was for two weeks,) the three headed back to their place for an impromptu jam. On the way, Denver's left thumb was broken in an automobile accident. 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."

Danoff and Nivert then told him about the song that they had been working on for about a month. Originally, Danoff and Nivert had planned to sell the song to popular country singer Johnny Cash, but when Denver heard the song and decided he had to have it, the duo who wrote the original lyrics decided not to make the sale.

They sang the song for Denver and as he recalled, "I flipped." The three stayed up until 6:00 a.m., changing words and moving lines around. When they finished, John announced that the song had to go on his next album.[7]

The song was premiered December 30, 1970, during an encore of Denver's set, with the singers reading the words from a folded piece of paper. This resulted in a five-minute ovation, one of the longest in Cellar Door history.[8] 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.[9] The song continued to sell in the digital era. As of September 2018, the song has also sold an additional 1,458,000 downloads since it became available digitally.[10]

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. In 1977, Denver sang it at Morgantown High School, and he even changed the wording to "Appalachian Mountains, Monongahela River".[] In 1980, Denver performed the song during pregame festivities to a sold-out crowd of Mountaineer fans. This performance marked the dedication of the current Mountaineer Field and the first game for head coach Don Nehlen.

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.[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.[13]

The geographical features mentioned prominently in the song lyrics - the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains - have only marginal associations with the state of West Virginia, and would seem to be more appropriate to describe western Virginia. The river passes through only the very eastern tip of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in Jefferson County, but its sources and its four upper forks are in Virginia.

Similarly, the Blue Ridge Mountains are only peripherally associated with West Virginia, but do form the boundary between West Virginia and the State of Virginia for a few miles at Jefferson County.[14] According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road is close to her native Washington, D.C., in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland, where Denver often visited. That road - Clopper Road - still exists today, but the landscape has changed drastically from the countryside scenery that once surrounded it.[15]

The Mountain State Brewing Company based in Thomas, West Virginia, produces an amber ale called "Almost Heaven," which it says is "named after John Denver's ode to West Virginia, Country Roads".[16]

This song was played at the funeral memorial for Senator Robert Byrd at the state capitol in Charleston on July 2, 2010.[17]

Personnel

Charts

Chart (1971) Peak
position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[18] 3
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[19] 5
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[20] 17
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 2
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[22] 3
US Hot Country Singles (Billboard)[23] 50

Hermes House Band version

"Country Roads"
HermesHouseBandCountryRoads.jpg
Single by Hermes House Band
from the album The Album
Released 2001
Format CD single
Length 3:22
Label XPLO Music
  • Jim Binapfl
  • John Lehmkuhl
  • Mark Snijders
  • Jack Buck
Hermes House Band singles chronology
"Disco Samba Part II"
(2000)
"Country Roads"
(2001)
"Que Sera Sera"
(2001)

In 2001, the song was covered by Dutch pop band Hermes House Band and released as "Country Roads". 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. The band performed the song live on Top of the Pops.[]

Track listing

  • Dutch CD single
  1. "Country Roads" (original radio edit) - 3:22
  2. "Country Roads" (happy dance version) - 3:20

Charts

Weekly charts

Chart (2001) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[24] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[25] 23
Denmark (Tracklisten)[26] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[27] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[28] 2
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[29] 27
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[30] 17
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[31] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 60
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[33] 35
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[34] 7

Year-end charts

Chart (2001) Position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[35] 18
Germany (Official German Charts)[36] 10
Ireland (IRMA)[37] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[38] 121

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[39] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Olivia Newton-John versions

  • Olivia Newton-John recorded a cover version in 1973 that reached the top 10 in Japan and the number 15 in the UK, but only reached No. 119 in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100.[]

Fallout 76 version

A cover version of the song--a collaboration between Copilot Music + Sound and the vocal group Spank--was commissioned for and featured in both the teaser and full E3 2018 trailers for the 2018 video game, Fallout 76, whose plot events are set in West Virginia.[40] Released as an iTunes-only single on July 4, 2018, the song reached #1 on the iTunes singles chart.[41] It debuted at #41 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart that week and at #21 on Billboard's Country Digital Songs the following week.[41] 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.[42]

References

  1. ^ Kurt Wolff; Orla Duane (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 425. ISBN 978-1-85828-534-4.
  2. ^ "American single certifications - John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Road". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
  3. ^ Bjorke, Matt (April 4, 2016). "The Top 30 Digital Country Singles: April 4, 2016". Roughstock.
  4. ^ "John Denver - UNPLUGGED COLLECTION [IMPORT] Music CDs" (list), Choose, 2007, webpage: JD-Collect Archived 2008-12-11 at the Wayback Machine..
  5. ^ "Bill Danoff | Songs". Billdanoff.com. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ Jack Diamond Mix 107.3
  7. ^ Collis, John (30 September 2011). John Denver: Mother Nature's Son. Mainstream Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-78057-330-4.
  8. ^ "Bill's Music Heritage". Billdanoff.com. Retrieved . This may be a little self-serving recollection - I recall them performing it during the first set, Denver calling them up onstage and then promising to get them back up again once the song had been performed. There was likely a second set that night, the night before a big holiday, the only management decision to be made whether there was an additional cover charge imposed for those inclined to linger through both sets
  9. ^ "American certifications - John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Road". Recording Industry Association of America.
  10. ^ Bjorke, Matt (September 5, 2018). "The Top 30 Digital Country Tracks: September 5, 2018". RoughStock. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ "Welcome To | WVU Traditions | West Virginia University". Welcometo.wvu.edu. 2009-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-16. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved .
  14. ^ "Physiographic Provinces of West Virginia". Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ "Bill Danoff | Bill and John Denver". Billdanoff.com. Retrieved 2012.
  16. ^ "Brews". Mountainstatebrewing.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7580." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. September 4, 1971.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 5331." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 14, 1971.
  20. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 5339." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 14, 1971.
  21. ^ "John Denver Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "John Denver Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  23. ^ "Hot Country Singles". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 83 (36): 32. September 4, 1971. ISSN 0006-2510.
  24. ^ "Austriancharts.at - Hermes House Band - Country Roads" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  25. ^ "Ultratop.be - Hermes House Band - Country Roads" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  26. ^ "Danishcharts.com - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". Tracklisten.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts - Search Results - Country Roads". Irish Singles Chart.
  29. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - week 1, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  30. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl - Hermes House Band - Country Roads" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  31. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  32. ^ "Swedishcharts.com - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". Singles Top 100.
  33. ^ "Swisscharts.com - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". Swiss Singles Chart.
  34. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  35. ^ "Jahreshitparade 2001" (in German). Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved 2018.
  36. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts 2001" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ "Best of Singles 2001". IRMA. Retrieved 2018.
  38. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2001" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved 2018.
  39. ^ "British single certifications - Hermes House Band - Country Roads". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter Country Roads in the search field and then press Enter.
  40. ^ Kuchera, Ben (11 June 2018). "Fallout 76 has everyone humming John Denver". Polygon. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved 2018.
  41. ^ a b Hampp, Andrew (31 July 2018). "Songs for Screens: How a John Denver Classic Resurfaced Thanks to 'Fallout 76'". Variety. Retrieved 2018.
  42. ^ "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.

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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