Take Me Home, Country Roads

"Take Me Home, Country Roads", also known simply as "Take Me Home" or "Country Roads", is a song written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver about West Virginia. It was released as a single performed by Denver on April 12, 1971, peaking at number two on Billboard's 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 1.6 million digital copies sold in the United States.[3] It is considered to be Denver's signature song.[4]

"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
B-side"Poems, Prayers and Promises"
ReleasedApril 12, 1971 (1971-04-12)
Format7-inch single
RecordedJanuary 1971, New York City
John Denver singles chronology
"Friends With You"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads"
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" (audio) on YouTube

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 the four official state anthems of West Virginia.


Inspiration for the song had come while the couple was driving along Clopper Road in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland to a Nivert family reunion in Gaithersburg.[5] According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road is close to Washington, D.C., where Denver often worked. 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. Today, the landscape around Clopper Road has changed drastically due to development and little resembles the countryside scenery that once surrounded it.[6]

To Danoff, the lyric "(t)he radio reminds me of my home far away" in the bridge is quintessentially West Virginian, an allusion to listening during his '50s childhood days to the program Saturday Night Jamboree on Wheeling's WWVA from his home far away, in Springfield, Massachusetts.[7]

Danoff had some other West Virginia associations to draw from as well. He became friends with actor Chris Sarandon, a Beckley native who was once married to actress Susan Sarandon, as well as a group of hippies from a West Virginia commune who used to sit in the front row of the little clubs in which his groups used to play:[7] "They brought their dogs and were a very colorful group of folks, but that is how West Virginia began creeping into the song,” Danoff said. “I didn't want to write about Massachusetts because I didn't think the word was musical. And the Bee Gees, of course, had a hit record called Massachusetts, but what did I know?".[7]

Starting December 22, 1970, Denver was heading the New Year's bill at The Cellar Door, with Fat City opening for him, just as Denver had opened at the same club for then headliner David Steinberg. After Tuesday the 29th's post-Christmas reopening night (Cellar Door engagements ran from Tuesday to Sunday and this booking was for two weeks), the three headed back to the couple's apartment for an impromptu jam. On the way, Denver's left thumb was broken in a collision. He was rushed to the ER, where the thumb was put in a splint. By the time they got back to the apartment, he was, in his own words, "wired, you know."[citation needed]

But when Danoff and Nivert ran through what they had of the song they had been working on for about a month, planning to sell to Johnny Cash, Denver "flipped." He decided he had to have it, prompting them to abandon plans for the sale.[citation needed] The verses and chorus were still missing a bridge, so the three of them went about finishing.

Taffy got out an encyclopedia to learn a little more about West Virginia, and the first thing that came upon was the Rhododendron, the state flower, so she kept trying to work the word Rhododendron into the song. Rhododendron was actually the title that Taffy had written down on the lyric sheet, which they later sent to ASCAP.[7] The three stayed up until 6:00 a.m., changing words and moving lines around.[8]

The geographical features named in the first verse of the lyrics - Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River - which are more prominent in the state of Virginia than in West Virginia, can be found in Jefferson County, West Virginia.[9]

When they finished, on the morning of Wednesday, December 30, 1970, Denver announced that the song had to go on his next album.[8] Later that night, during Denver's first set, Denver called his two collaborators back to the spotlight, where the trio changed their career trajectories, reading the lyrics from a single handheld, unfolded piece of paper. The resulting ovation is said to have been five-minute-long and was certainly one of the longest in Cellar Door history. The next day was Denver's 28th birthday. 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 January 2020, the song has also sold 1,591,000 downloads since it became available digitally.[3]

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 it has been performed during every home football pregame show since 1972.

On September 6, 1980, at the invitation of West Virginia Governor Jay Rockefeller, songwriters Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver performed the song during pregame festivities to a sold-out crowd of Mountaineer fans. This performance marked the dedication of the current West Virginia University Mountaineer Field and the first game for head coach Don Nehlen.[11]

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]

This song was played at the funeral memorial for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd at the state capitol in Charleston on July 2, 2010.[13]

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".[14] Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the resolution into law on March 8, 2014.[15]

On November 1, 2017, the West Virginia Tourism Office announced it had obtained the rights to use “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” in its marketing efforts. “‘Country Roads’ has become synonymous with West Virginia all over the world,” said West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “It highlights everything we love about our state: scenic beauty, majestic mountains, a timeless way of life, and most of all, the warmth of a place that feels like home whether you've lived here forever or are just coming to visit.”[16]

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".[17]



Chart (1971) Peak
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


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Italy (FIMI)[24] Gold 25,000 
United Kingdom (BPI)[25] Platinum 600,000 
United States (RIAA)[2] Platinum 1,591,000[3]

 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Cover versionsEdit

Hermes House Band versionEdit

"Country Roads"
Single by Hermes House Band
from the album The Album
FormatCD single
LabelXPLO Music
  • 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". 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.

Dutch CD single
1."Country Roads" (original radio edit)3:22
2."Country Roads" (happy dance version)3:20
Weekly charts
Chart (2001) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[26] 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[27] 23
Denmark (Tracklisten)[28] 5
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[29] 21
Germany (Official German Charts)[30] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[31] 2
Ireland Dance (IRMA)[32] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[33] 27
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[34] 17
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[35] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 60
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[37] 35
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[38] 7
Year-end charts
Chart (2001) Position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[39] 18
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[40] 96
Germany (Official German Charts)[41] 10
Ireland (IRMA)[42] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[43] 121
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany (BVMI)[44] Platinum 500,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[45] Silver 200,000 

^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Olivia Newton-John versionsEdit

Ray Charles versionEdit

American singer Ray Charles recorded a version of the song on his 1972 album A Message From the People.

Toots and the Maytals versionEdit

Jamaican ska/reggae band Toots and the Maytals covered the song on their 1973 album In the Dark, the track also later included on the 1975 U.S. release of Funky Kingston. Their cover of the song was influenced by Ray Charles' rendition, since the two versions share more similarities regarding the structure, melody and tone than they do with the original version.

Israel Kamakawiwoʻole versionEdit

Native Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoʻole covered the song on his 1993 album Facing Future, featuring his personal rendition of the piece in relation to the Hawaiian Islands and his life there, mentioning West Mākaha and Mount Kaʻala.

Japanese versionEdit

A Japanese language cover of the song, sung by Yōko Honna, was made for the 1995 anime film, Whisper of the Heart. The song, which plays a part in the plot of the film, is humorously renamed "Concrete Roads" and reflects on Honna's character's hometown in western Tokyo. The Olivia Newton-John version also plays during the opening of the film. Another Japanese cover is a punk version by Going Steady and is called the Tokyo Kid.

Fallout 76 versionEdit

A cover version of the song, a collaboration between Copilot Music and 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.[46] Released as an iTunes-only single on July 4, 2018, the song reached No. 1 on the iTunes singles chart.[47] It debuted at No. 41 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart that week and at No. 21 on Billboard's Country Digital Songs the following week.[47] 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.[48] In Australia, a promotional Fallout 76 vinyl featuring the cover was included with the December 2018 issue of STACK Magazine exclusively from retailer JB Hi-Fi.[49]

Chart (2018) Peak
US Country Digital Songs (Billboard)[47] 21
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[47] 41

In popular cultureEdit

In the September 29, 2008 strip for Pearls Before Swine, Rat sings the song to plant an earworm. When he explains it to Pig, Pig begins to dismiss it, but then he impulsively starts singing the song himself.

In season 5 of the American TV show The Office, Dwight and Andy sing increasingly elaborate and showy versions of the song to try and impress Erin, whom they both have a small crush on.

In the 2017 science fiction horror film Alien: Covenant, while repairing their damaged ship, the crew of the spaceship Covenant picks up a weak transmission of the song, which leads them to the nearby planet from where it originates.

In the 2017 Steven Soderbergh film Logan Lucky, the young daughter of primary character Jimmy Logan sings his favorite song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" at a Junior Beauty Pageant, in the resolving scene in the movie.

In the 2017 Matthew Vaughn film Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the character Merlin sings a capella “Take Me Home, Country Roads” before dying by a land mine.

Some VTubers (Virtual Youtubers) like Shizuka Rin, Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato sang the song during their performances.

In season 2 episode 11 of American Dad, Stan, Steve, and the Mexican sweatshop workers, sing this song as Paco and his family sing this song for their dream of coming to America.

In the 1995 anime, Whisper of the Heart the protagonist Shizuku Tsukishima sings an alternate version of this song for their school graduation.


  1. ^ Kurt Wolff; Orla Duane (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 425. ISBN 978-1-85828-534-4.
  2. ^ a b "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. ^ a b c Bjorke, Matt (January 25, 2020). "Top 30 Digital Country Downloads: January 24, 2020". Rough Stock. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "John Denver - UNPLUGGED COLLECTION [IMPORT] Music CDs" (list), Choose, 2007, webpage: JD-Collect Archived 2008-12-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (2019-04-17). "Mountain mama! John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' was inspired by Maryland, not West Virginia". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  6. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (2019-05-15). "It was Maryland that inspired 'Take Me Home, Country Roads'". AP News. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  7. ^ a b c d "Take Me Home, Country Roads". WVUSports.com. 2014-01-29. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Collis, John (30 September 2011). John Denver: Mother Nature's Son. Mainstream Publishing. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-78057-330-4.
  9. ^ "Physiographic Provinces of West Virginia". Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  10. ^ "American certifications – John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Road". Recording Industry Association of America.
  11. ^ "Country Roads-John Denver WVU 1980 Introduction and Full Song (Audio)". YouTube. July 8, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2018. John Denver, Bill Danoff, and Taffy Nivert performing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" at the opening of West Virginia University's Mountaineer Field September 6, 1980. This audio recording includes the introduction by John Denver followed by the full song as recorded by WVAQ with Jack Fleming announcing.
  12. ^ "Welcome To | WVU Traditions | West Virginia University". Welcometo.wvu.edu. 2009-11-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-16. Retrieved 2014-03-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-08. Retrieved 2014-03-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "WV Tourism obtains rights to use John Denver's 'Take Me Home, Country Roads'". West Virginia Press. November 1, 2017. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  17. ^ "Brews". Mountainstatebrewing.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2012.
  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. ^ "Italian single certifications – John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved April 15, 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Take Me Home, Country Roads" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  25. ^ "British single certifications – John Denver – Take Me Home, Country Roads". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Take Me Home, Country Roads in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  26. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  27. ^ "Ultratop.be – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  28. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Tracklisten.
  29. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 18 no. 38. September 15, 2001. p. 9. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  30. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Country Roads". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  32. ^ "Top 10 Dance Singles, Week Ending 11 October 2001". GfK Chart-Track. Retrieved June 2, 2019.[dead link]
  33. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 1, 2002" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  34. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Hermes House Band – Country Roads" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  35. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  36. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Singles Top 100.
  37. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". Swiss Singles Chart.
  38. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  39. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 2001" (in German). Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  40. ^ "Year in Review – Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 2001" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 18 no. 52. December 22, 2001. p. 14. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  41. ^ "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 2001" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  42. ^ "Best of Singles 2001". IRMA. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  43. ^ "The Official UK Singles Chart 2001" (PDF). UKChartsPlus. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  44. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Hermes House Band; 'Country Roads')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  45. ^ "British single certifications – Hermes House Band – Country Roads". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Country Roads in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  46. ^ Kuchera, Ben (11 June 2018). "Fallout 76 has everyone humming John Denver". Polygon. Vox Media, Inc. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  47. ^ a b c d Hampp, Andrew (31 July 2018). "Songs for Screens: How a John Denver Classic Resurfaced Thanks to 'Fallout 76'". Variety. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  48. ^ "John Denver - Take Me Home, Country Roads (Audio)". YouTube. April 5, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2018. John Denver's official audio for 'Take Me Home, Country Roads', as featured on Fallout 76.
  49. ^ Kolbe, Alesha (December 3, 2018). "Grab a FREE Fallout 76 vinyl with this month's STACK Magazine". stack.com.au. Archived from the original on December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.

External linksEdit