dinsdag 2 november 2021

Country Roads (English introduction)

Singing Country Roads
Travelling country roads

Last week I was looking in the attic for some old school newspapers and then I happened to find a piece of paper with the text of Take Me Home, Country Roads. I was actually planning on recording a completely different song - so that's coming up later - but John Denver pushed forward. The song was written by Bill Danoff and his wife Taffy Nivert. Danoff is from Springfield, Massachusetts and the song almost had come into history as “Almost heaven, Massachusetts”, but it was West Virginia. The duo was the support act for John Denver. They actually wanted to offer the song to Johnny Cash, but when they showed it to John Denver, who was in the hospital after a car accident, he was immediately so enthusiastic that he wanted to record it. In 1970 he sang it live for the first time and in 1971 he released the song as a single.

At the time, I was in high school and I had heard the song already many times, when I was traveling through America with my girlfriend in 1980 and we also passed through West Virginia. We slept that night with Ron and Sandy Sowell of the Putnam County Pickers, a folk group that lived in a sort of commune in the woods of West Virginia. I looked up our diary from that time, and you can read that story there, see the link to the diary above. 

“Almost heaven, West Virginia”. Someone said to us: Denver must have written that when he flew high over the state in a airplane (and it's true that Danoff and Nivert also had never been to West Virginia when they wrote it), because West Virginia isn't exactly known as the kingdom of heaven. It is - or at least was - a poor mining area, known for its coal and the many songs about poor coal miners daughters. Where much wealth can be found underground, people above ground often live in poverty and insecurity, just like in our own history of the provinces Limburg (coal mines) and Groningen (natural gas). 

I recorded Country Roads with my mobile phone, after practicing it a few times, I don't know it by heart yet, and I notice that I couldn't read the chords well on my piece of paper. I sometimes got them right just in time, and I get out of rhythm at bit in the intermezzo or 'bridge', but I just manage to keep the words within the lines. So I'll leave it at that and you can now listen to my teardrop-in-the-eye interpretation of West Virginian country roads.

YouTube: https://youtu.be/OlUa7YuKlfA

To return to the starting page for my Country Roads blogs:

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