Take me home country roads


Sept. 3, 1972


Pauly hates John Denver and Hank knows it – especially “Take me home country roads,” a song that became a hit before I got back from the west earlier this year.

Hank started humming it before last Christmas as soon as he learned how bugged Pauly got by it.

Who knows why Pauly hates it so much. Maybe it has to do with last year’s trip to Nova Scotia, and the ache he got in him for finding our own land after having to come back to mundane New Jersey.

Hank uses the song to get even for past slights or to end arguments he knows he can’t win against Pauly’s wit.

Pauly warns Hank to stop.

“I can’t be accountable for the violent actions that song stirs up in me,” he says.

But once Hank starts nothing short of an earthquake can stop him.

Hank actually bought a copy of a John Denver LP as a gift for Pauly, have it to him, then found it out in the trash can the next day. Hank rescued it, then came up a collection of singles, giving each of them to Pauly only to have Pauly launch them out the door like a fleet of Frisbees.

Hank took several of them home, peeled off the label of a Rolling Stones single and pasted this on top of a John Denver one, then wrapped up the record like a present and gave that to Pauly.

The record played three bars before Pauly snatched it off the record player and cracked it in two, Hank eking his revenge from the look on Pauly’s face, chuckling over Pauly’s warning to never do it again.

So summer came.

I guess even Pauly forgot the old joke when he made his plans to go visit Jane in California and asked to borrow my cassette tapes so that he and Alf would have music to listen to over the long drive west and back.

Hank never forgets, and asked if I minded altering one of the tapes for a joke, and picked a tape of James Taylor he knew Pauly was certain to listen to at some point on the trip, saying to me that everybody hated “I’m a steamroller” and convinced me to record him singing “Country Roads” over it, and I did.

Hank was peeved by the fact a new job kept him from going with Pauly and Alf, and saw this as a perfect revenge.

We did not know when or where Pauly would hear the substituted song, but we both knew what his expression would look like when we did.

When we brought the tapes and helped Pauly load the car for the trip, we got a brief scare when Pauly decided he wanted to listen to that tape while we packed. But he turned the tape off just before the tape reached that point.

This week we learned how well our trick worked when Pauly got back.

Apparently, he didn’t play the tape again the whole way west, probably because Alf liked drunk music and thought James Taylor was a wimp.

Alf being Alf managed to offend all of Jane’s friends out west, and they bought a plane ticket for his return home so that Pauly and Jane could drive home without the pleasure of his company.

The car got as far as Nebraska when it broke down, and pure luck or fate made Pauly select the James Taylor tape to listen to while they waited for the tow truck to come collect them, and because he had stopped the tape where he did before leaving, the first song he heard was Hank’s rendition of John Denver’s “Country Roads.”

Needless to say I’ll never see that tape again since Pauly chucked it into a field where it is slowly rotting along side a country road.


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