John Denver’s Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

John Denver’s famous hit country song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was released on April 12th, 1971. Considered as John Denver’s signature song, it was co-written by himself and his good friend Bill Danoff and surprisingly isn’t truly about West Virginia.

To show the poetic meaning of the song, one must look into the context of the writing of the song, as is similarly seen in poems. Bill wrote the song about his home state Maryland, reminiscing about its curving, winding roads. In a state of nostalgia mixed with home sickness, Danoff wrote the piece and presented it to his friend and artist, John Denver. Adding his own twists and turns, Denver created his now most prominent piece, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Denver singing to a simple beat, starts his piece with a quatrain. Right away, Denver compares West Virginia to heaven. Denver is using imagery to paint a picture to his listeners. He describes oddly describes life as old followed by describing a breeze as “growing”. I find this odd use of language combined with his detailed features of West Virginia as poetic to his listeners. His singing gives the feeling of nostalgia, a bright look on the past of a country he loved.

Denver’s lines in his hit song also reach multiple dimensions such as the imaginative, sensual, and emotional. This can be seen in the following lyrics.

Misty taste of moonshine

West Virginia, mountain mama

The line “Misty taste of moonshine” gives the listener a sensual feeling. Taste is not normally described as misty, thus the listener imagines the moonshine as misty. The following line “West Virginia, mountain mama” also oddly describes the state as the mother of mountains. Upon hearing this line the listener imagines the mountainous state and can feel the nostalgia that Denver is singing about. This nostalgia is emotional for the listener themselves as they start to recall their own hometown or other matters they are nostalgic about.

Overall, John Denver and Bill Danoff created a poem of nostalgia, that shakes the bones of the listener, painting a picture within their head, and emotionally calling upon their own nostalgic experiences and past.

One thought on “John Denver’s Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

  1. Kirsten K

    I think the song is a great example of poetry because it reminds the listener of their home and the nostalgia of being home. This is a trait that poetry is supposed to bring up, the imagery and lyrics add to the feeling of home and somewhere you love.

    Like

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