Music

Did You Know John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' Was Actually Inspired By This State?

"Take Me Home Country Roads" is widely recognized as John Denver's signature song. Though not an instant success (it peaked at number two on the Billboard chart), it has grown into a beloved fan favorite. It's even an official state anthem for West Virginia. But did you know that the song was actually inspired by another state?

Bill Danoff and his wife, Taffy Nivert, wrote the classic song with help from Denver. Nivert grew up in the Washington D.C. area and one day she and Danoff were driving down an old road in Montgomery County, Maryland, Clopper Road, to visit some family members. Danoff started singing about the winding roads they were driving down (which have since changed) and it had a ring to it.

Though Danoff grew up in Massachusetts, he drew inspiration for the lyrics from his childhood. He grew up listening to radio programs which made him feel nostalgic, but his home state really didn't have the ring to it that its neighbor West Virginia did (though he had never even visited prior to writing the song). Danoff and Nivert performed with Denver at a club in D.C. called The Cellar Door. One night after a show, the three of them went to go have a "jam fest." The couple had originally wanted to sell their song to Johnny Cash, but they played it for Denver. He absolutely loved it and the trio stayed up all night changing up the lyrics and creating a masterpiece.

Read More: Remembering John Denver and His Country Music Legacy

Right before the song's official release in 1971, Denver sang the completed version for the first time at The Cellar Door. He received a five-minute standing ovation -- one of their longest of all time. The song was an immediate hit for West Virginians. It has been played at every West Virginia University Football game since 1972 as their theme song. In 2017, the West Virginia Tourism Office even obtained the rights to the song to boost their marketing.

Despite its unexpected inspiration, "Take Me Home Country Roads" is one of the most beloved country songs of all time. In 2016, the song was included in "Forever Country," a mashup of over 30 country artists, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Association awards. 

 

'Take Me Home Country Roads' Lyrics

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 mama

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

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain mama

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 mama

Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia, mountain mama

Take me home, country roads

Take me home, down country roads

Take me home, down country roads

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Did You Know John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' Was Actually Inspired By This State?