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‘Country Roads’ Take Me Inside Appalachia

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Shutterstock
Autumn foliage along a country road in West Virginia.

This episode of Inside Appalachia is about returning home. For some people, timing and circumstance force you back. It is only then that you realize how much you missed home. Others spend decades longing to return.

There are many songs about that longing. One of the most famous is “Take Me Home, County Roads,” a song that has come to represent the feeling of homesickness that many Appalachians know so well. 

In this episode of Inside Appalachia, we will hear from people who recently moved to Appalachia, either as a return or for the first time. There are also stories about people learning homesteading skills that helped our great-grandparents’ generation survive the Great Depression and have sustained many Appalachians for years.

In This Episode

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Credit Courtesy Bill Danoff
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Taffy Nivert and John Denver playing “Country Roads” at the Cellar Door in Washington D.C., in December 1970, one of the first times the song was performed in public. Bill Danoff’s guitar is to the left.

Take Me Home

John Denver’s song “Take Me Home, County Roads,” has been a worldwide anthem since its release in April 1971. The song is one of the things people across the globe connect with West Virginia. But there’s a debate about whether the lyrics were really even written about the state.

Roxy Todd has been talking with people about the stories behind the song, and what it represents to people in the Mountain State. 

Homesteading Skills

For some people, returning home means going back to a place. For others, it means connecting to traditions or homesteading roots. With a little more time on our hands, a lot of us have turned to traditional skills and practices as one way of coping with the challenges. 

Some folks in Appalachia have returned to community traditions of raising and butchering livestock at home. Folkways corps reporter Nicole Musgrave found two people in Floyd County, Kentucky who are teaching others how to process meat at home.

How About Them Apples?

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Credit Connie Kitts / For Inside Appalachia
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For Inside Appalachia
Renee Halsey enjoys one of the few Early June Transparent apples that survived the mid-May freeze of the 2020 apple season.

Homecoming and the cool fall air may bring to mind foods like apple strudel or cider making. But apples are more than just a fall treat. Summer varieties of apples are an important ingredient for some applesauce or breakfast apple recipes.

As folkways reporter Connie Kitts discovered, these early apples are now at risk of disappearing.

 

New Arrivals

Due to the pandemic, many people have asked themselves why they are living in cities if they can work from anywhere. That has caused an outmigration from city centers into suburbs and small towns. Kara Lofton caught up with some folks who’ve recently moved to the Mountain State.

We had help producing Inside Appalachia this week from the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Southern Coalfields Reporting Project, which is supported by a grant from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority. Special thanks to the West Virginia Folklife Program at the West Virginia Humanities Council.

wvpublicnews · ‘Country Roads’ Take Me Inside Appalachia

Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Dinosaur Burps, John Harrod from his recording with Appalshop's June Appal Records, the late Wade Ward and also, John Denver. 

Roxy Todd is our producer. Eric Douglas is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Andrea Billups. Kelley Libby edited our show this week. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. 

You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia.

You can also send us an email to InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org.

Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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Stay Connected
Southern W.Va. Bureau Chief, Reporter/Producer, jlilly@wvpublic.org, 304-384-5981, @JessicaYLilly
Former Reporter/Producer for Inside Appalachia, @RoxyMTodd
News Director, edouglas@wvpublic.org, 304-556-4946, @AppalachiaEric