Thursday, June 20, 2013

John Denver with Fat City: Take Me Home, Country Roads

Happy Birthday West Virginia! Today is the 150th anniversary of the founding of the State of West Virginia, which was born out of the conflict known as the American Civil War. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is probably the best known song that mentions West Virginia, and it made it to #2 during the summer of 1971.

While the geography of the song is better suited to northern Virginia, it didn’t stop the song from being popular in neighboring West Virginia. Only one county in the Mountain State is home to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River is the most easterly portion of the state in Jefferson County. While West Virginia received the mention and the geographic references were of Virginia, the inspiration was Montgomery County, Maryland. Go figure.

The song was primarily written by Bill Danoff and his wife at the time Taffy Nivert. Danoff and Nivert performed as a duo named Fat City. Later in the mid 1970s, the duo grew to a quartet called the Starland Vocal Band. Fat City was opening for John Denver in Washington, DC where he had heard their song. Denver later did some editing of the lyrics and became a collaborator in the writing of the eventual hit.

While it was a slow climb up the charts, it satisfactorily launched Denver’s mainstream popularity. The song appeared on “Poems, Prayers & Promises” – his fifth album and fourth with a major label, RCA Records. I hope this is a fitting treatment to the state that I made my home temporarily during the summers of 1975 and 1976 and permanently from 1981 to 2013.

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