Leaving West Virginia

Album: Walk The Way The Wind Blows (1986)


  • This was written by country singer Kathy Mattea - a native of South Charleston, West Virginia - for her third album, Walk The Way The Wind Blows. While Mattea is a songwriter, she typically prefers to showcase other writers by recording their songs, notching hits penned by Nanci Griffith ("Love At The Five And Dime") and Susanna Clark ("Come From The Heart"). "I see myself as a singer who sometimes writes," she explained in her Songfacts interview.
  • Mattea left West Virginia for Nashville in the late '70s and worked as a tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame while she pursued a music career. In the song, the narrator leaves the Mountain State for California, where her undefined dreams are waiting to be fulfilled.
  • Performing this song 30 years later was a poignant experience for Mattea, who included it in her set at the request of one of her audiences. "I just burst into tears in the middle of my own show," she recalled to the Huffington Post in 2016. "This moment happened where it was like my young self was talking to my middle-age self and my own words kind of came... it's like I was talking to me. And I just had to stop in the middle of the song and just take a breath, step back from the mic and everybody was just very quiet and respectful. And then I came back in. It was really something."


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