Saturday, June 24, 2017

New Carbonated Lyrics for John Denver's "Country Roads"


"Take Me Home, Country Roads" was written and premiered in 1970, the same year as the first Earthday. Now, 47 years later, we have "carbonated" the lyrics, steering the song's longing towards a new home: a way to travel that's not haunted by the specter of climate change. In its premier at the Labyrinth Bookstore in Princeton, the song worked great as a singalong to close out our performance. I mean, people actually sang along, without even being prompted!

Update: See video of solo performance at this link.

THERE’S A ROAD
(adapted from John Denver’s recording of
“Country Roads”)

1st VERSE
Almost Heaven; West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old here, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowin like a breeze.

CHORUS
There’s a road, we can take, to the place, we belong,
West Virginia, keep your mountains, let the sun take us home.


2nd VERSE
All my travels have been haunted, trails of carbon, rising up behind me.  
All I want is, some clean energy, captured from the sunlight,
In my batteries.


CHORUS
There’s a road, we can take, to the place, we belong,
West Virginia, keep your mountains, let the sun take us home.


BRIDGE
           
I hear its whisper in the rush hour it calls me,
The promise of a new electric car is here to stay.
And driving down the road I get a feeling
That we should have been home yesterday, yesterday.


CHORUS
There’s a road, we can take, to the place, we belong,
West Virginia, keep your mountains, let the sun take us home.

There’s a road, we can take, to the place, we belong,
West Virginia, keep your mountains, let the sun take us home.


Let the sun, take us home; electric car, take us home.


The aim of carbonating popular songs is to make the song climate-relevant while changing as few words as possible. There's a lot of serendipity in the process. Only through the need to conform to the melody of Country Roads could the line have come to mind, "All my travels have been haunted, trails of carbon rising up behind me", but it captures the feeling that can arise while driving in a car that burns gasoline. Below are the original lyrics.


TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS (original lyrics)

Almost Heaven; West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old here, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowin like a breeze.

Country Roads, take me home, to a place, where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.

All my memories gather round her, miner's lady, stranger to blue water.
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky, misty taste of moonshine,
Teardrop in my eye.

Country Roads, take me home, to a place, where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.

I hear her voice in the morning hour she calls me,
The radio reminds me of my home far away.
And driving down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday.

Country Roads, take me home, to a place, where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.

Country Roads, take me home, to a place, where I belong,
West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home, country roads.

Take me home, country roads; take me home, down country roads


The carbonated lyrics came about after Basha Parmet, who was learning the John Denver version for another group, brought the song to rehearsal, thinking its longing for nature's splendor was relevant to our project. Another inspiration was my neighbor, Peter, who told me the Chevy Bolt he had just bought gets 230 miles on a single charge. That was mind-opening. Basha, by the way, co-founded a nonprofit store called the Whole Earth Center in 1970--a good year all around. 

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