Covers of 'Country Roads' range from cute to criminal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Since John Denver released "Country Roads" on his 1971 breakout album "Poems, Prayers and Promises," a few other people have covered it.
You know, like, Malaysian line dancers. Big-time wrestling's "Doctor of Thuganomics," John Cena. Alvin and the Chipmunks. We present to you some of the wide variety -- if not occasionally criminal -- cover versions of the iconic song, culled from YouTube. (All hit counts were current as of Nov. 20.)
VERSION: Sashae Dancers of PJ Academy Of Dancing in Malaysia, dancing to the Hermes House Band version of "Country Roads"
NOTES: It's a little disorienting seeing Malaysian line dancers step-dancing to a techno-pop version of "Country Roads." But after all, isn't that what the Internet is for? This video features the most widely heard supercharged version of the song by a Dutch group, the Hermes House Band (heard on scores of YouTube videos), but executed by Ms. Nelly Ysen's Malaysian line dance crew. It's just that kind of world.
HIT COUNT: 3,317,378
LIKES: 2,959. DISLIKES: 128
VERSION: Official Hermes House Band music video
HIT COUNT: 4,353,031
LIKES: 8,018. DISLIKES: 540.
NOTES: The staging of this video is all screwed up, visually and historically, which hasn't hurt its hit count a bit. A Confederate flag waves in the air, which should come as news to legislators who broke off from the slaveholding state of Virginia in 1863 to form the Union state of West Virginia. And the video tells a story set in the town of Lubbock (there's one of those in Texas, guys), with a story revolving around a saloon, a sheriff and a pretty gal straight out of a corny Western. What are they teaching Dutch kids in history class?
VERSION: Alvin and the Chipmunks remix
NOTES: This is just an audio file set to an image of Alvin and the Chipmunks in which some guy has changed the pitch on the original Chipmunks version: "I chipmunked 'Country roads.'"
HIT COUNT: 229,447.
LIKES: 221. DISLIKES: 122.
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."
VERSION: Olivia Newton John
NOTES: Olivia Newton John in 1972, in the dewy-eyed early years of her career. This is the Respectful/Worshipful/White Bread strain of "Country Roads," done as if she were singing it at a Campus Crusade for Christ coffeehouse.
HIT COUNT: 764,848
LIKES: 1,914. DISLIKES: 26.
VERSION: John Denver and Johnny Cash
HIT COUNT: 49,661
LIKES: 195. DISLIKES: 1.
NOTES: Like whiskey and seltzer. A charming duet between Denver and Cash from their helmet-hair days. On the chorus, Denver cedes the melody he usually sang to Cash's gut-bucket bass and sings harmony instead.
VERSION: Big-time wrestling superstar, actor and "Doctor of Thuganomics" John Cena apparently sings "Country Roads" in the ring before his matches in West Virginia. Here he is before a match in Charleston.
HIT COUNT: 20,001.
LIKES: 54. DISLIKES: 6.
NOTES: Certainly, the most muscular version (literally) of the song ever sung, if abbreviated. Certainly the only one ever sung in boxing shorts. Followed by what is known as a "threat display" in the animal world.
VERSION: Fcdeejay vs. Destino featuring The Vain Boy (Radio Edit)
HIT COUNT: 3,546.
LIKES: 8. DISLIKES: 0.
NOTES: No video, just an mp3. But perhaps the finest introduction to (an adulterated version of) "Country Roads" we've found, spoken in a Jamaican patois (we think -- we can't find anything on the performers):
"Dees is a journey into the original 'Country Roads.' Dees is a journey where all the party people will come together to have a lot of fun. Take my hand and I'll take you to the place you belong. Enjoy this trip -- 'cause dis' is Heaven!"
Only two YouTube comments: "Love it" and the inscrutable "hey check my mail.pls."
VERSION: Toots and the Maytals
HIT COUNT: 443,092.
LIKES: 1,061. DISLIKES: 14
NOTES: One of the more adulterated versions ever recorded: West Vir ... what? West Jamaica?! Cool. And "... All my friends there, holding on those.." What? Reefers? Hmmmm ...
This compilation was originally published on my WestVirginiaVille.com blog, where we continue to archive new and odd versions of "Country Roads" in the "Music" section. Suggest one there.