Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 5, 2014

'Country Roads' expected to become an official West Virginia state song

CHARLESTON — A special resolution to make the John Denver hit “Take me Home, Country Roads” an official West Virginia state song is going before the Legislature on Friday.

“Country Roads,” which begins with the lyrics “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” was a hit for the late singer John Denver and songwriters Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert.

A reception will be hosted 2 p.m. Friday in the lower rotunda of the State Capitol. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state legislators are scheduled to attend, plus musical performances from the Appalachian Children’s Chorus, students from Cabell Midland High School, and America’s Got Talent winner and West Virginia resident Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. will perform.

Legislators are scheduled to vote on House Concurrent Resolution No. 40 on Friday.

The effort to add “Country Roads” West Virginia’s list of official songs started in 2012 after the subject came up on the Little Buddy Radio 93.1 FM show “Sunny Side Up” hosted by Dreama Denver, wife of the late Bob Denver of “Gilligan’s Island.”

Denver, who is no relation to singer John Denver – whose real last name was Deutchendorf – enlisted the help of Mercer County’s representatives in the Legislature to help make the idea a reality.

“It makes me feel really proud,” Denver said Wednesday. “And what it makes me feel proud of is the people of West Virginia, and particularly southern West Virginia.”

Denver said while she led the effort, she owned “a huge thanks” to Delegate Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer; Senator Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and Delegate Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, for their help.

The song “Country Roads”  is known across the world, Denver said. It has been hear at the Great Wall of China, in many Irish pubs, and even in Thailand when that country’s prime minister sang it to then Gov. Joe Manchin during a state visit. It has been translated into languages ranging from French to Japanese and performed by singers including Ray Charles, Loretta Lynn, and Olivia Newton John.

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. and his manager Burke Allen heard an example of the song’s popularity in December 2012 while they were in Shanghai, China.

“When one of our Chinese drivers who didn’t speak English learned we were from West Virginia, he started singing ‘Country Roads’ to us!” Murphy recalled. “It was wild. We were about as far away from home as we could get, and this guy halfway around the world knew that song and identified it with West Virginia.”

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” will join the current list of state songs including “The West Virginia Hills, the tune “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home,” and “This Is My West Virginia.”

 

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