Country Roads, take me home

To the place I belong

West Virginia,

Mountain Mama, take me home

Country Roads

Take Me Home, Country Roads has become the official state song of West Virginia.  The inspiration for the song came from the songwriters driving winding roads to get to a family reunion.  Because driving country roads was time consuming, Bill Danhoff, one of the song’s writers, conceived a ballad to make the trip less tiresome.  Bill Danhoff had never been in West Virginia at that time, but was a regular listener of the Saturday Night Jamboree from Wheeling, WV.  He lived in Massachusetts at the time.  “The radio reminds me of my home far away” came from his childhood memory of listening to WWVA in Wheeling.

When Bill Danhoff and his wife, Taffy Nivert, had come close to finishing the song, they showed it to John Denver.  They had intended to sell it to Johnny Cash, but Denver insisted they sell him the rights.  They worked all night with John Denver to finish the song.  When first performed at the Cellar Door night club, the patrons gave them the longest ovation ever given to a song.  It ended up as the No. 2 song in America for 1971.

When Mountaineer Field was opened in 1980, John Denver was asked to perform Country Roads as a part of the pre-game show.  His escort onto the field said that John Denver was amazed that the song meant so much to the people of West Virginia.  After he performed Country Roads, Denver commented that he had played a number of concerts, but never had been circled by so many fans who were in sync with his words and singing right along with him.

Since its introduction to Mountaineer Field in 1980, Country Roads is sung by the fans after every victory.  What is especially striking is to see everyone with their arms around those they are standing next to and swaying to the song. Country Roads has created a real sense of belonging to Mountaineers everywhere.  If a music performer invites the audience to make song requests, there is a virtual guarantee that Country Roads will be requested.

A sense of belonging is critical to a person’s health.  In a time when loyalty seems to be a thing of the past, belonging is even more critical.  Every time we hear Country Roads, it evokes fond memories of family and friends and events that have created special bonds so that:  “All my memories, gather round her.”  No matter where Mountaineers may currently reside, there remains a wistfulness as we think of Country Roads.

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“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”  –Maya Angelou (poet & author)

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