American Top 40 PastBlast, 8/14/71: John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

One thing we got at Walton-Verona Elementary School that I don’t recall having during first or second grade in Stanford was regular arts time. I still have a few of my art projects from third-to-sixth grade, but I also carry around in my head a number of songs we learned during the classes that focused on music. Most of them are folk tunes: stuff like “Billy Boy,” “Red River Valley,” and “She’ll Be Comin’ Around the Mountain.” But the teacher also snuck in the occasional popular song as well.

I can remember one time when two of my classmates did a sweet duet of “Time in a Bottle,” though I suppose that might have happened in junior high. The hit song I most associate with elementary school music class, though, is John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (#3, soon to peak at #2). I think of it more as from 73 (rather than summer 71), since that’s probably when I was learning its lyrics in earnest. It’s absolutely a fun chorus for singing along, especially with fellow nine-year-olds.

Decades passed before I learned that Bill and Taffy Danoff co-wrote it and sang backup, billed as Fat City. They would become much more well-known five years after this hit, as half of the Starland Vocal Band.

It’s time, and not physical distance, that the line, “Radio reminds me of my home far away,” brings to mind these days.

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