The song Take Me Home, Country Roads was released over 50 years ago but still is popular and relatable to newer generations. The song helped boost John Denver’s career internationally. But what was the special connection between Denver and West Virginia?
One of John Denver’s most successful songs, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” reached the number 2 spot in the US Billboard Top 100 in 1971. The song talks about the beauty of West Virginia, but surprisingly he has not been there.
Who was John Denver?
Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. was born on December 31, 1943, in Roswell, New Mexico. Denver was born into a military family and was used to relocating from time to time to wherever his Air Force test pilot father was assigned. He first got into music when his grandmother gifted him a Gibson guitar when he was just two years old. He further developed his interest in music when he joined a band while attending Texas Tech University.
By 1963, Denver dropped out of school and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career in the music industry. He became part of the folk band The Mitchell Trio while being part of other bands at the time. By 1969, the artist decided to make it on his own. Denver released his first solo album, Rhymes, and Reasons. The album included his hit single Leaving on a Jet Plane.
The now-famous singer started producing albums the following year. His second hit, Take Me Home Country Roads, helped him rise to the top and maintain his fame into the seventies. He made several hits like Sunshine on my Shoulders, Annie’s Song, and Thank God I’m a Country Boy.
His success as a musician brought him to television when he was invited to guest in The Muppet Show. Denver also starred in the film Oh God in 1977. In the same year, the renowned artist, together with his friends, author Werner Erhard and physicist Robert Fuller, established The Hunger Project. The organization aimed to find ways to end hunger globally.
Denver was also active in organizations like The National Wildlife Federation, Save the Children, The Cousteau Society, Friends of the Earth, and the Human/Dolphin Foundation. He continued to be part of the music industry and several organizations until his untimely death on October 12, 1997, when the plane he was operating crashed. (Source: The Famous People)
How “Take Me Home, Country Roads” Became a State Song
In 1970, husband and wife songwriting duo Billy Danoff and Taffy Nivert wrote a ballad about winding roads. They got their inspiration while traveling through western Maryland. They were enchanted by their trip and thought it would make a great song. The only problem they had was that they thought the state of Maryland wouldn’t make a great title. It only had three syllables.
They thought four-syllable names would sound better, like Massachusetts would sound better. Then they were brought to the exciting ring West Virginia had. Even though the couple hadn’t been to the state, they took the name. Danoff also disclosed in an interview that he didn’t know what West Virginia looked like at all. He assumed it would look similar to the roads they saw as they traveled through Maryland.
Denver loved the song when the couple presented it to him, even though the singer hasn’t been to West Virginia either. He added his finishing touches to the song and recorded it in 1971. Thanks to him, the song became one of the state’s official songs. (Source: The Culture Trip)
1 thought on “Did John Denver Ever Visit West Virginia Before the Song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” Came Out?”
You should have traveled thru West Virginia, You will never know what you missed. RIP John