“Country Roads” to be adopted as an official state song

45
Paddlers on Shenandoah River, Eastern Panhandle Region
Paddlers on the Shenandoah, immortalized in “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” to be adopted as an official West Virginia state song. Photo courtesy Rick Burgess

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia this week formalizes the adoption of “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” as an official state song, according to a chief proponent for the move.

Princeton native Dreama Denver, wife of the late Bob Denver, best known to the world for his roles as “Gilligan” and “Maynard G. Krebs,” announced today that the governor had contacted her about the invocation ceremony, to be held in the capitol rotunda Friday.

Recorded by John Denver (no apparent relation to Bob Denver) in 1971, Country Roads quickly became one of the most recognized songs in modern popular music and was soon thereafter adopted as the theme song for West Virginia University.

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, ‘‘The West Virginia Hills’’ is the best-known of three official state songs and was adopted in 1961. ‘‘West Virginia, My Home Sweet Home’’ and ‘‘This is My West Virginia’’ were also adopted as official state songs in 1963.

Dreama Denver this afternoon wrote in a message to West Virginia Explorer that her push for a referendum to adopt the song had been in the works for some time.

“The idea was born on my morning show, Sunny Side Up, on Little Buddy Radio, a year and a half ago,” she wrote, “and on behalf of the Denver Foundation, I took the lead.”

“Thanks to delegate Marty Gearheart and Senator Bill Cole, who championed me in this cause, we got it done, but the great folks of West Virginia who lent their support deserve the lion’s share of the credit. I’ve always said, if we all come together for the greater good, we can move mountains.”

The Senate vote on the referendum is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, followed by a 2 p.m. reception in the lower rotunda, Denver announced in a message on Facebook.

Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., will open the proceedings, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, Denver said, and the Appalachian Children’s Chorus performing “what promises to be our newest state song,”

“So many wonderful West Virginians helped make this day a reality — Delegate Marty Gearheart, who co-authored HCR 40, Senator Bill Cole  — my hero for a number of reasons, not the least of which was his sole sponsorship of our second Always Free Honor Flight.”

Denver also thanked WVVA-TV, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and the Beckley Register-Herald for interviewing her and promoting the effort.

“Last but never, never least, Sunny Side Up’s listeners — Paul Dorsey, Pam Fluharty Coulbourne, Kathy Woolwine Lambert, Rick Counts and countless others whose names I don’t know, who wrote letters, sent emails and made phone calls in support of HCR 40.

“Another huge thank you to the children of John Denver — Zak, Anna Kate, and Jesse Belle — who sent us a heartfelt statement from John Denver’s estate, as well as Bill Danoff, co-writer of ‘Country Roads’ who did the same. “

Listen to Youtube selections for “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

“Take Me Home, Country Roads”