WVa takes home ‘Country Roads’ – John Denver ‘anthem’ now an official state song

Chris Dorst – Many people have thought that John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” already was West Virginia’s official state song, but that wasn’t the case until Friday, when the Legislature passed a resolution making it so. Here, Mercer County resident Dreama Denver — widow of “Gilligan’s Island” actor Bob Denver, and no relation to John — speaks during a ceremony marking the move in the state Capitol on Friday. Dreama Denver was instrumental in getting John Denver’s Mountain State “anthem” on the official song list.


Members of the Cabell Midland High School band, under director Tim James, perform “Country Roads” at Friday’s ceremony.
CHARLESTON, W.Va.— Singer/songwriter John Denver never called West Virginia home, but his 1970s hit, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” is now one of the state’s official songs.Forty-three years after it first hit the airwaves with the opening words “Almost Heaven, West Virginia,” the Legislature approved a resolution Friday designating it as one of four state songs.

The song was co-written by Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert and Denver, and was released on Denver’s 1971 album, “Poems, Prayers and Promises.” It reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has resonated with Mountain State residents ever since.

Denver’s studio version is played after every West Virginia University basketball and football game, and the Mountaineer Marching Band includes part of the song in its football pre-game show.

Denver sang it in person at the 1980 dedication of Mountaineer Field in Morgantown.

The state-song effort was started two years ago by the widow of “Gilligan’s Island” actor Bob Denver, who was no relation to John Denver.

A Bluefield native, Dreama Denver said she got the idea after playing the song on her morning radio show in Princeton and a caller wanted to know if it was an official state song.

After doing some research, she learned it wasn’t. She contacted Raleigh County Delegate Marty Gearhart, who got the ball rolling in last year’s regular session. The resolution passed the House of Delegates in 2013 but never made it through the Senate.

This year, it did.

“My heart has been pounding all day,” Dreama Denver said.

She said she’s heard countless stories about the song from residents, including a man who recently told her, “This is not a song. It’s an anthem.”

“The entire world knows us with this song,” she said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said he was part of a state trade mission to Taiwan several years ago. A nightclub at a hotel where he was staying was playing waltzes, but as soon as Tomblin and other members of his party entered, John Denver’s song started playing.

“I’m very proud that ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ finds a new home among our beloved official state songs,” Tomblin said at a state Capitol ceremony.

West Virginia has three other official state songs: “West Virginia Hills,” “This Is My West Virginia” and “West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home.”