Take Me Home, Country Roads

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Here is the story....

Danoff says some of his late 1960s excursions to Western Maryland with his girlfriend (and later first wife Taffy Nivert) provided the genesis for the song, as well as a subsequent trip down Interstate 81 on his way to Roanoke, Va.

“We were driving down Highway 81 and there were the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River,” he recalled. “Up in Springfield, we have the Connecticut River and on one side of the river it’s Springfield and on the other side it’s West Springfield, so I just assumed the other side of the river was West Virginia.”

At the time, Danoff was only 24 when the words to the song were first formulating in his mind. The part that is quintessential West Virginia, to Danoff, is the verse “I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away.”

Danoff says that comes directly from his childhood in the 1950s listening to the program Saturday Night Jamboree on Wheeling’s WWVA.

“It was a powerful station and we got it clearly in Springfield at nighttime,” he said. “We used to call it hillbilly music in those days, and I think the people who did it called it hillbilly music, too.”

It was during his subsequent drives to Maryland that the phrase Country Roads began to stick with him.

“I just couldn’t get that phrase out of my head, so that’s where that phrase stems back from,” he said. “My whole life I’ve enjoyed being out for rides on those roads, and I thought this is probably a universal experience.”

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 band used to play.

“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?”

Danoff continued to work on the verses to the song, arranging and rearranging them like a jigsaw puzzle until the pieces began to fit. The only unfinished part was the bridge when Danoff first met a guy named John Denver at the Cellar Door - D.C.’s most popular club back in the late 60s. The Cellar Door’s slogan was “The Smallest Room With the Biggest Names” and it was D.C.’s equivalent to the Troubadour in LA, the Bitter End in New York City and the Hungry Eye in San Francisco.

Danoff worked there first as doorman and then as the sound guy before starting his own band.

“That’s where I really learned about show business,” he said. “As the light and soundman you have to watch shows diligently and be alert for all the cues.”
.... More here https://wvusports.com/news/2014/1/29/24994_131465976649784385.aspx?path=general

Ric 322 days ago

west Virginia?

I have long loved the song, and have lived on both sides of that short 15 mile stretch where the Shenandoah and the blue Ridge are at the West Virginia/Virginia state line. I choose to see the song as about west Virginia; note the small 'w' in that term. The original article is inaccurate on the geography of the Shenandoah River. At Front Royal, its two branches, the north and the south, come together and head for Harpers Ferry. However, the south branch come down the Page County part of the Shenandoah Valley from almost as far back as Staunton and the north branch reaches up the main Valley almost to Harrisonburg. As for the Blue Ridge Mountains, they reach all the way down toward the Great Smokies and do pass at least near some coal mining parts of the southwestern regions of Virginia. So I still stake my claim on the song being titled "Almost heaven, west Virginia"

Jennings Hobson 322 days ago

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