50 Years Ago: John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ Is Released
Fifty years ago today, on April 12, 1971, John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads" was released as a single. The song is from his 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises.
Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert originally started writing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" for Johnny Cash. But, when Denver learned of the track, he requested to help finish it and decided to include it on one of his records.
"I played him what I had of "Country Roads," and he said, 'Wow! That's great, that's a hit song! Did you record it?'" Danoff recalls to NPR. "I said, 'No, we don't have a record deal.'"
At the time, Danoff and Nivert were both struggling musicians who were trying to make a name for themselves together. While the two may have found success by releasing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" as their own tune, neither of the songwriters regrets letting Denver have what became the biggest hit of his career.
"It wasn't a country record," Danoff maintains. "We could've beat up Nashville and nobody would've recorded it. One thing I learned in this business is that things turn out other than you planned them to, no matter what it is. And you can't predict what's going to happen."
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" was a hit on the country charts, as well as on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. More than a dozen artists, including Ray Charles, Loretta Lynn, Eddy Arnold, Lynn Anderson and Daryle Singletary, have recorded cover versions of the tune; Carrie Underwood also performed the song during her 2010 Play On Tour. In 2014, the song became the official state anthem for West Virginia, and in 2016, the Country Music Association used the song as part of their all-star "Forever Country" mashup in celebration of the CMA Awards' 50th anniversary.
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" remained a staple of Denver's live shows throughout the remainder of his career. The artist died in 1997, when his airplane crashed in California.
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