The Encyclopedic ‘Country Roads’ Video Compendium: Part 1

May 22, 2011 by


We have a friend, a prominent West Virginia musician, who hates “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Just thoroughly sick of it. Do not ask this friend to play John Denver’s iconic tune or to listen to your cover of the song as you begin to warble “Country roads, take me home, to the place, I ….”


However, you feel about the song (still love it; kinda’ burned out; puh-leeese) you can’t avoid “Country Roads,” lo these many years since Denver released it on his 1971 breakout album, “Poems, Prayers and Promises.”If you’re a performer and you mention you live in West Virginia, you better be ready to stand and deliver. And that time you were in a Czech bar tossing back a Pilsner Urquell and the band started singing the song in Czech? Is no place sacred? (And if you need to hear Denver sing it, you might try him doing it before a polite Japanese crowd.)

With this post, WestVirginiaVille commences a recording project, of sorts. We’ll be posting or noting the widest variety, culturally speaking, of video performances of the song we can find. We’re talking cross-cultural, trans-national recordings and performances here. The above version features the most widely heard super-charged version of the song, by the Hermes House Band (scores of YouTube versions use it), but done in Malaysia. To a line dance. It’s just that kind of world.

A little about the song, first. It was actually co-written by Denver, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. Those in the know are aware that the song’s GPS coordinates are suspect, partly due to the way it was co-written and completed, as the following Wikipedia link explains. The geographical disparities are several:

The land features mentioned prominently in the song lyrics – the Shenandoah River and the Blue Ridge Mountains – have only marginal associations with the state of West Virginia, and would seem to be more appropriate to describe western Virginia. The river passes through only the very eastern tip of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Similarly, the vast majority of the Blue Ridge also lies outside the state. According to a radio interview with Nivert, the road that inspired the song is nowhere near the state. It is a road close to her native Washington, D.C., in nearby Montgomery County, Maryland …

Maybe that’s why the several resolutions entered into the West Virginia Legislature over the years to make “Country Roads” the state song have all come to naught, so far. Herewith, several initial inclusions in the  “Country Roads Video Compendium.” Got one? Suggest it.

THE VERSION: Malaysia line dancers (See above).
NOTES: This video is especially psychotronic as it features the Hermes House Band version done to a line dance by the Sashae Dancers of the PJ Academy Of Dancing  in Malaysia. Teacher: Ms. Nelly Tsen.
COMMENTARIAT: The very first comment on the video is perhaps the most definitive in its ungrammatical honesty:
~ “I tryed that I fell on my ass.”
HIT COUNT: 2,550,512
LIKES: 2,108. DISLIKES: 107


THE VERSION: The Hermes House Band. NOTE: The band has disabled embedding for the video.
NOTES: The staging of this video is all screwed up, visually and historically, which hasn’t hurt its hit count one bit. In the first place, a Confederate flag waves in the air at one point, which should come as news to the legislators and activists  who broke off from the slaveholding state of Virginia in 1863 to form the Union state of West Virginia. In the second place, the video unfolds a story set in the town of Lubbock (there’s, um, one of those in Texas), with a story revolving around a saloon, a sheriff and a pretty gal that’s straight out of a Western. So, if Denver’s original song is off by a few score miles geographically, this one is off by, oh, 1,200 miles.
~ from liverpool (england) f**king love this song
~ A song that everyone on the earth knows :)
HIT COUNT: 3,331,359
LIKES: 5,192. DISLIKES: 425.


The Alvin and the Chipmunks re-mix version
NOTES: This is just the audio set to an image of the Chipmunks in which some guy has changed the pitch on the original Chipmunks version: “I chipmunked ‘Country Roads.'”
COMMENTARIAT: But there is this priceless note on the YouTube page: ‘Comments disabled due to people saying ‘this video sucks etc. and basically just slagging the video. I know it sucks, learn to read the description.’ And he’s right – at the outset of the video description, it says right there: ‘THIS VIDEO SUCKS, I KNOW.’
HIT COUNT: 209,828.
LIKES: 205. DISLIKES: 107.



THE VERSION: Olivia Newton John
This is Olivia Newton John at her dewy-eyed prime early in her career (a line notes that it’s 1972), though she looks like she’s not too lately popped from her mother’s womb. This is the Respectful/Worshipful/White Bread Strain of “Country Roads,” done as if she were singing it at a Campus Christian Crusade coffeehouse.
COMMENTARIAT: Newton John’s fans fill the comment list, but some doubters pile in:
~ ‘I think ‘Olivia’ should be a word that means ‘catches the sunlight like a prism that turns it into love’, because she really does.’
~ she’s an angel.
~ Too straight-laced, no soul and sounds ordinary, Olivia has a good voice but who’s is that unmatched shrill of a backing voice?
HIT COUNT: 143,862


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  1. Amy Weintraub

    Okay, this Euro-techno version mixed by Fcdeejay vs. Destino Feat, entitled “The Vain Boy – Country Roads” doesn’t have video (that I could find) but it is my all time favorite and livens up even the most sullen of Mountaineer shindigs. I believe it belongs in your compendium:

  2. John Cena sings Country Roads every time he wrestles in WV. Here is a YouTube link to a show in Charleston. There are several more on YouTube.

  3. I recall a wonderful version of Country Roads done by the Russian bluegrass band, Kukuruza, when then came to Charleston to play Mountain Stage in the 1990s. I can’t recall whether they performed it on Mountain Stage or whether they played it later that night at the Empty Glass.

    I did a few quick Google searches but didn’t come up with a copy. You may want to try to track it down. The singer of Kukuruza at that time was Irina Surina. What a wonderful voice – her version of Crazy is also one of my favorites.

    If you find a version – let me know.


  1. The Encyclopedic ‘Country Roads’ Video Compendium: Part 2 | WestVirginiaVille - [...] Part 1 of the ongoing Encyclopedic ‘Country Road’ Video Compendium, we heard from chipmunk and Malaysian line dance interpretations…