I've always liked John Denver, if only for the sentimental memories of hearing his music daily on AM radio when I was a kid in Idaho in the 70s and 80s. But if his regular Muppet Show appearances put him in a league with Paul Williams (with whom he shares both AM radio songwriting and a regular Muppet Show gig), few can deny that the man could write a song. Exhibit A: In 1972, Ray Charles—no stranger to covering country songs, or any other genre, for that matter, slipped an amazing cover of "Take Me Home, Country Roads" on his 1972 album A Message From The People, taking Denver's gentle, folksy original and turning into a joyously funky country hoedown.
Here's Ray Charles covering "Take Me Home, Country Roads":
As good as Ray Charles' version is, this next version might even be better. Toots & The Maytals, one of the greatest reggae groups ever, may have been John Denver fans, and have recorded several other unexpected covers (you should hear their "Louie, Louie"). This track, originally from their 1974 LP "In The Dark", takes Ray Charles' version (likely the version they heard first) and somehow makes it even more sentimental and exhuberant, substituting "West Jamaica" for "West Virginia". Enjoy!
Toots & The Maytals covering "Take Me Home, Country Roads":