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“Take Me Home, Country Roads” Makes West Virginia Seem Like a Much Better Place Than It Really Is

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Admit it. You love this song. You’ll be hard pressed to find a single soul who doesn’t. It’s completely impossible to listen to it with your windows rolled up; I don’t care what season it is. If you own a guitar, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is to an autumn campfire as “Wonderwall” is to sitting in a university quadrangle with the intent of drawing the attention of the opposite sex. I just really wish it wasn’t about West Virginia.
If you’ve ever seen other parts of the state besides Snowshoe on the “ski trip,” I think you will understand exactly where I am coming from. Sure, it does have occasionally breathtaking natural beauty, but do you know how many states are more beautiful than West Virginia? I would say essentially every one I have visited. I don’t know about you, but if I was to craft a folk ballad this beautiful, I would think, “Okay let me think of decent states with mountainous topography.” States with superior mountain topography: Alaska, Montana, Vermont, Maine, Wyoming, Utah, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. John Denver already covered Colorado so I left that one out. I also left out California because I think there are enough songs about the Golden State already.
West Virginia is legitimately the left armpit of the Eastern Seaboard (New Jersey is the other); it’s cold a lot, the trees all look like sticks in the winter but it looks worse than normal because you’re in West Virginia.
You might be thinking, “Connor, what if he was born there? He could have experienced his most cherished childhood memories there, you know. The very state could have fostered the inspiration he needed to be one of the most influential folk artists of all time.”
John Denver was born December 31, 1943 in Roswell, New Mexico. And not only this but upon further research I found he never once lived in or even visited the state. As stupefying as this revelation is, you have to consider the fact that John Denver probably would have never written the song if he had actually traveled there. I would say the lyrics would be far less enchanting if he had witnessed the dilapidated infrastructure or the dismal unemployment rate.
But maybe he sees West Virginia as the hypothetical “New Mexico of the East.” New Mexico not only boasts high unemployment, but also harbors one of the most widespread methamphetamine abuse problems in the country, just like West Virginia. The song is still a great song, it’s just I promise you West Virginia isn’t as magical as Denver makes it.

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