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Almost heaven, West Virginia: Prompt

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Your prompt for this week popped into my head as I looked for a poem to post today from Robert Wood Lynn's incredible collection, Mothman Apologia. The title of this prompt is, of course, the first 4 words of John Denver's song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

West Virginia is a place where I have lived (twice) and I also visit a lot. I have been on those country (and urban) roads in every part of the state. It is one of my favorite places in the country, even with its myriad troubles (one of them—the epidemic of oxycontin, meth, and fentanyl—is one of the things focused on in MA).

So many songs have been written about New York, Paris, and California, but there are lots of songs about other states and cities. The list below just scratches the surface.

This week’s prompt is to use these places listed in the songs below.

You can use lyrics from one of the songs, write about traveling to a few of them, discuss your desire to visit one of these places, respond to the stereotypes about this place, or anything else. Bonus Points* for mentioning 3 or more places listed below in your piece!

I also suggest listening to some of these songs as you write, paint, color, brainstorm, etc. just for fun (and because there are a lot of awesome songs on this list!).

“Almost heaven, West Virginia” from “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver

“Kentucky Rain” by Elvis Presley

“New Orleans” by Gary U.S. Bonds

“Havana” by Camila Cabello

“I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett

“Duluth” by Brianna Lane

“Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips

“Gary, Indiana” from The Music Man

“North Dakota” by Lyle Lovett

“Maryland” by Vonda Shepard

“Little Rock” by Reba McEntire

“Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen

“Portland, Oregon” by Loretta Lynn

“Johannesburg” by Gil Scott-Heron

“Werewolves of London” by Warren Devon

“Galveston” by Glen Campbell

“Los Angeles, I’m Yours” by The Decemberists

“Boston” by Augustana

“Cairo, IL” by Natalie Hemby

"Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A.

“Allentown” by Billy Joel

“Free Man in Paris” by Joni Mitchell

“Leaving Las Vegas” by Sheryl Crow

“Going Down to Liverpool” by The Bangles

“Belfast” by Boney M

“Move to Miami” by Enrique Iglesias

“The White Cliffs of Dover” by Vera Lynn

“Pompeii” by Bastille

“The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace

“Budapest” by George Ezra

"Kokomo, IN" by Japanese Breakfast

“Brooklyn in the Summer” by Aloe Blacc

“Weekend in New England” by Barry Manilow

“Florida” by The Range

“Birmingham Blues” by ELO

“No Control in Cleveland” by i-tal

“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” by Dionne Warwick

“Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” by Emmylou Harris

“Seattle” by Bobby Sherman

“Tulsa Time” by Don Williams

"Panic in Detroit" by David Bowie

“Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis

“Death Valley” by LP

“If You Want Space, Go to Utah” by Christine Lavin

“Ohio” by CSNY

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by Buffy Sainte-Marie

“Ocean City” by Ivy

“California Soul” by The 5th Dimension

“Pittsburgh” by William Fitzsimmons

“San Diego” by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra

“Oklahoma” from Oklahoma

"Point Me in the Direction of Alburqueque" by The Partridge Family

"Nutbush City Limits" by Ike and Tina Turner

*In this case, Bonus Points are their own reward.

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