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Take Me Home, Country Roads

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, Tony Tucker and John Denver.

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
John Denver with Fat City take me home country roads 1971 A-side US vinyl.jpg
One of earliest U.S. vinyl releases (A-side)
Single by John Denver and Taffy Nivert
from the album Poems, Prayers & Promises
Released August 1971
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, maxi, CD, digital download, cassette single, DataPlay single
Recorded 1971
Genre Country[1]
Length 3:08
Label RCA Records
Songwriter(s) Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, John Denver, Tony Tucker
Producer(s) Milton Okun, Susan Ruskin
John Denver and Taffy Nivert singles chronology
"Friends With You"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
"Friends With You"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
Olivia Newton-John singles chronology
"What Is Life"
(1972) What Is Life1972
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
(1973) Take Me Home, Country Roads1973
"Let Me Be There"
(1973) Let Me Be There1973
B-side of one of earliest U.S. vinyl singles
B-side of one of earliest U.S. vinyl singles
Audio sample
Music video
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" (audio) on YouTube

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, and is still very popular around the world. 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 also has a prominent status as an iconic symbol of West Virginia, which it describes as "almost Heaven"; for example, it was played at the funeral memorial for U.S. Senator Robert Byrd in July 2010.[5] In March 2014, it became one of several official state anthems of West Virginia.




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.[6] Inspiration for the song had come while driving to a family reunion of Nivert's relatives along Clopper Road[7] 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.[8]

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.[9] They recorded it in New York City in January 1971.

Commercial performanceEdit

"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.[10] The song continued to sell in the digital era. As of September 2017, the song has also sold an additional 1,584,000 downloads since it became available digitally.[11]

Reception in West VirginiaEdit

"Take Me Home, Country Roads" received an enthusiastic response from West Virginians. The song is the theme song of West Virginia University and has been performed at every home football pre-game show since 1972. In 1977 Denver played for Morgantown High School and even changed the wording to "Appalachian Mountains, Monongahela River".[citation needed] 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 then 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.[12]

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".[13] Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resolution into law on March 8.[14]

The land 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. Similarly, the vast majority of the Blue Ridge also lies outside the state, only crossing into West Virginia in Jefferson County. 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 bucolic scenery that once surrounded it.[15]

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

The song was played at the funeral memorial for Senator Robert Byrd at the state capitol in Charleston on July 2, 2010.[5]


Chart performanceEdit

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

Hermes House Band versionEdit

"Country Roads"
Single by Hermes House Band
from the album The Album
Released 2001
Format CD single
Length 3:22
Label XPLO Music
Songwriter(s) Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, John Denver
  • Jim Binapfl
  • John Lehmkuhl
  • Mark Snijders
  • Jack Buck
Hermes House Band singles chronology
"Disco Samba Part II"
"Country Roads"
"Que Sera Sera"

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

Track listingEdit

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


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

Other versionsEdit

In popular cultureEdit

  • Bradford City A.F.C., an English football club, has a variation for their stadium Valley Parade, with West Virginia being replaced with Midland Road.[34]
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs, an Australian rugby league Club, have a variation with Country Road being replaced with Botany Road.[35]
  • Manchester United F.C., an English football club, have a variation with Country Road being replaced with United Road, the road that leads to Old Trafford.
  • Vegalta Sendai, a Japanese football club, sings the song as its theme before home games. While during the game altered lyrics are sung to the tunes of "The Lambrusco Kid" by the Toy Dolls, Blitzkrieg Bop, and other songs by KISS and Twisted Sister.[36]
  • Swinton rugby league club, an English rugby league club, have their own version relating to the club's one time home stadium, Station Road (1929-1992): "take me home Station Road".
  • Wests Rugby, the successful Australian rugby club have their own version.
  • The film Whisper of the Heart mentions this song: the protagonist, Shizuku, translates and adapts the song for Japanese language before singing it at the end of the movie, accompanied by a luthier who plays violin and other characters.
  • Steve and the Mexican immigrants sing the song at the end of the season 3 American Dad! episode "American Dream Factory".
  • Dwight and Andy sing the song to try and win Erin's affection in Season 5 of The Office, in the episode "Michael Scott Paper Company."
  • The 2017 film Alien: Covenant uses this song in its trailer material, and features as a small, but significant plot point in the film.
  • The 2017 film Logan Lucky uses the song and discusses Bill and Taffy writing the song.
  • The 2017 film Kingsman: The Golden Circle uses the song throughout the film, most notably Merlin singing it near the film's climax.


  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. ^ a b Garcia, Jon (July 2, 2010). "Eulogizing Sen. Robert Byrd: The Hard Working, if Imperfect, Senator". ABC News. 
  6. ^ "Bill Danoff | Songs". Retrieved April 17, 2017. 
  7. ^ Jack Diamond Mix 107.3
  8. ^ Collis, John (30 September 2011). John Denver: Mother Nature's Son. Mainstream Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-78057-330-4. 
  9. ^ "Bill's Music Heritage". Retrieved 2011-01-29. 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 
  10. ^ "American certifications – John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Road". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  11. ^ "Nielsen SoundScan charts – Digital Songs – Week Ending: 09/28/2017" (PDF). Nielsen SoundScan. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2, 2017. Retrieved October 3, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Welcome To | WVU Traditions | West Virginia University". 2009-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-01-29. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-16. Retrieved 2014-03-16. 
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2014-03-07. 
  15. ^ "Bill Danoff | Bill and John Denver". Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Brews". Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7580." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. September 4, 1971.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 5331." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 14, 1971.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 5339." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 14, 1971.
  20. ^ "John Denver Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  21. ^ "John Denver Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2015.
  22. ^ "Hot Country Singles". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 83 (36): 32. September 4, 1971. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  23. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  24. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  25. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Tracklisten.
  26. ^ " – Hermes House Band Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  27. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  28. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Singles Top 100.
  29. ^ " – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Swiss Singles Chart.
  30. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  31. ^ "Almost Heaven (2005)". Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  32. ^ "Heike Makatsch". Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  33. ^ Finan, Eileen (September 16, 2016). "The Story Behind Country Music's Epic Mash-Up! Plus: Hear Blake, Carrie, Miranda and 36 Other Stars Sing 'Forever Country'". People. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  34. ^ "Take Me Home Midland Road chant a Bradford City song & lyrics". 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  35. ^ "Rabbitohs Club Song | Official Membership Site of the South Sydney Rabbitohs". Retrieved 2016-10-05. 
  36. ^ "Football, Take Me Home (Teaser 1)". YouTube. 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2016-10-05. 

External linksEdit