WATCH: Johnny Cash Joins John Denver for Stunning ‘Country Roads’ Performance in 1978

by Madison Miller
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Johnny Cash traveled “Further On Up The Road” to sing fellow artist John Denver’s iconic, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

The duo met up on a peaceful, open farm with their guitars in hand back in 1978. You can even see and hear the rustling of a nearby tree. This duo makes for a peaceful rendition of the song that already invokes a sense of home, belonging, and comfort.

Johnny Cash and John Denver

Cash actually took the spotlight for the performance and belted out the classic chorus in his deep sultry voice. He was dressed, not surprisingly, in a slick all-black look. Meanwhile, Denver had on a bright floral blue button-down shirt.

The folk singer and country artist had voices that seemed to meld perfectly together. Cash is known for his incredibly deep voice, while Denver’s is a bit higher.

The audio and video may not be the greatest in terms of quality. However, the duet is rare so there are not very many versions of the song out there. In fact, someone on Reddit even did a remastering of the song to try to improve the overall audio.

The individual said that “I’ve always loved Johnny Cash and within the last year found John Denver and became a large fan of his … after hearing rumors a long lost duet of them singing Denver’s most notable song had surfaced and went viral I listened to it in my car on my way to work. I was sad how compressed and Lo-Fi it was. Wasn’t very loud even with my stereo all the way up.”

Who Was the Song Meant For?

The duet between Johnny Cash and John Denver is exciting for fans. Especially since there are rumors that Denver’s most popular song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” was originally written for Cash.

The song is Denver’s first, as well as most-recognizable hit. It is also the signature song of West Virginia.

An NBC Washington article from 2020 explains the origins of the song told directly from one of the songwriters, Bill Danoff.

He first performed the song in front of John Denver in December of 1970 during a week-long stint in Washington, D.C. At the time, Danoff worked as a doorman at the venue, called Cellar Door. He and his wife, Taffy Nivert Danoff, would eventually become the Starland Vocal Band, which would earn them a Grammy.

Denver had already recorded one of his songs, “I Guess He’d Rather Be In Colorado.” Danoff feared “Take Me Home, Country Roads” would be too country for Denver. The couple hoped that Johnny Cash would want to record it, although they never met the artist, but had taken a lot of his style and influences and placed it in the recording.

It was recorded in the studio a few days later. Danoff was on the guitar since Denver had broken his thumb a few days ago. Some of his original lyrics (like “men who look like Christ”) were also changed.

When John Denver heard the song, he and the couple stayed up working on it all night. The song was heavily inspired by Clopper Road, which runs through Montgomery County.

Outsider.com