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West Virginia’s “Country Roads” Tradition Brings a Classic Song to Life
Ap PHoto/Craig Hudson

I’m jealous of West Virginia sports.

They have Bob Huggins aka “Huggy Bear” and man did I love watching Pat White and Steve Slaton play.

The root of my envy stems from a song so encapsulating, so binding, and so perfect.

John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is played before every Mountaineer home football game and basketball game, and after every victory.

West Virginia “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

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I’m not going to lie, my experience with John Denver is limited. My deepest education was watching Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels cross the Colorado border.

That being said, every time I hear “Take Me Home, Country Roads” at a bar, I immediately wrap my arms around the person next to me, give the obligatory “I love you, man,” and belt out the lyrics with a drink in hand.

I can only imagine performing this sacred ritual with 60,000 of my closest friends. The John Denver classic has been apart of the pregame show at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va. since 1972.

Denver himself performed the song at the opening of Mountaineer Field in 1980.

That’s great and all; I’m not going to turn down a free spin, but the song hits harder after a victory.

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The camaraderie shared following college football win is hard to fathom.

As a Nebraska fan, I’m excited for the experience because this is our year like it has been for the past two decades. These days, the players lead the crowd in singing the state anthem when the clock strikes zero.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads” is all about reflecting on good memories with friends, and, of course, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River. The guy who cut you off at the hot dog stand and spilled ketchup all over your pants is forgiven. You embrace and celebrate the WVU sports win together in the Mountain State before going your separate ways.

The country music tale, which is actually the West Virginian state song, was written by songwriters Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and Denver. Danoff and Denver first met at The Cellar Door — a popular music club in Washington D.C., in the 1960s.

Danoff — a Springfield, Massachusetts native – drew inspiration from road trips as a kid from New England to Maryland. Additional inspiration came from a drive down Clopper Road in Montgomery County, Maryland, with his then-wife Taffy Nivert.

Here are the lyrics:

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue ridge mountains, Shenandoah river
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growin’ like a breeze

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Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
All my memories, they gather ’round her
Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrops in my eyes

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads

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I hear her voice in the mornin’ hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin’ down the road I get a feelin’
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, West Virginia, mountain mama, oh mama
Take me home, country roads
Take me home, down country roads
Take me home, down country roads

For West Virginia University fans from Morgantown to Charleston, the theme song holds a special place. It’s an innate trait to stop what you’re doing and sing along with everyone in your vicinity when that soft guitar starts playing.

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Joe Grobeck About the author:
Joe is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lives in Austin, Texas. He believes Ndaumkong Suh should've won the 2009 Heisman and is an avid basketball fan.
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