Country Road (song)

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"Country Road"
Country Road Dutch single cover.jpg
Dutch cover
Single by James Taylor
from the album Sweet Baby James
B-side"Sunny Skies"
ReleasedFebruary 1971
GenreFolk rock, country rock
LabelWarner Bros.
Songwriter(s)James Taylor
Producer(s)Peter Asher
James Taylor singles chronology
"Fire and Rain"
"Country Road"
"You've Got a Friend"

"Country Road" is a song written and performed by James Taylor. It appears on his 1970 second album, Sweet Baby James. The song was inspired by Somerset Street in Belmont, Massachusetts,[1]} a wooded road running adjacent to the land owned by McLean Hospital, where Taylor had committed himself in 1965 to receive treatment for depression. "Country Road" reached number 37 on the Billboard pop singles chart and number 9 Easy Listening in early 1971.[2] On the Canadian charts, the song was a bigger hit on both the Pop (#19) and Adult Contemporary (#3) charts.

"Country Road" is also featured on James Taylor's 1976 Greatest Hits record. The song has been played at most of his concerts since 1970. Randy Meisner, later of The Eagles, played bass on the album version.

According to Taylor's friend Danny Kortchmar, "Country Road"

captures the restless, anticipatory, vaguely hopeful feeling that plays a large part on James' character and appears in "Carolina in My Mind," "Blossom" and "Sweet Baby James." The road leads away from his ensnaring family: "Mama don't understand it/She wants to know where I've been/I'd have to be some kind of natural-born fool to want to pass that way again." It also takes him away from shattered affairs, prep schools, mental institutions — all manner of traps and bummers. At the end of the road lie freedom and ideal life in Carolina, and "a heavenly band of angels."[3]

Author James Perrone describes the theme of "Country Road" to be the happiness and freedom of being alone.[4] He further notes that the theme of solitude appears on other songs on Sweet Baby James, including the title track and "Sunny Skies."[4] "Sunny Skies was also released as the b-side of the "Country Road" single. According to Allmusic critic Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., "Country Road" "perfectly marked the transition between the '60s and the '70s."[5] This is because the lyrics suggest that it's time for those tired of trying to solve all the world's problems to leave them to Jesus and go away on their own.[5] Lankford finds the song's "simple arrangement," with acoustic guitar and "laid back" vocals, well matched to the lyrics.[5] Music author Barney Hoskyns called "Country Road" "a perfect distillation of the new rural mood" that had become popular at the time.[6]

Chart history[edit]

Chart (1971) Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles 19
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[7] 37
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary[8] 9
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[9] 25

Subsequent versions[edit]


  1. ^ Monaco, Rachel. "James Taylor: 5 best song lyrics or verses". Axs. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 237.
  3. ^ Crouse, T. (February 18, 1971). "The First Family of the New Rock". Rolling Stone. p. 34.
  4. ^ a b Perrone, J.E. (2012). Perrone, J.E. (ed.). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. ABC-CLIO. p. 71. ISBN 9780313379062.
  5. ^ a b c Lankford, Jr., R.D. "Country Road". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-11.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Hoskyns, B. (2010). Hotel California: The True-Life Adventures of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Mitchell, Taylor, Browne, Ronstadt, Geffen, the Eagles, and Their Many Friends. John Wiley & Sons. p. 109. ISBN 9781118040508.
  7. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 237.
  9. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, March 20, 1971[permanent dead link]