Rocky Top

Something for the weekend.  I have never been particularly fond of Country and Western music, a musical genre that my late parents perhaps overdosed me on as I was growing up.  However, I have always been fond of the rollicking Rocky Top.  The video at the beginning of this post melds the song with pictures from the Volunteer State.

The individual who posted the you tube video has detailed information about the song:

A video of Tennessee history. The Tennessee Theme song Rocky Top. There is so much spirit in Tennessee. Atlanta artist Corey Barksdale video about state of Tennessee. Corey Barksdale has lived in Atlanta for about 15 years and has become one of Atlanta’s premier artist. Corey Barksdale has exhibited his artwork at the Atlanta Dogwood festival, Decatur Art Festival, Virginia-Highlands Art Festival, National Black Art Festival, Atlanta Jazz Festival, Artsplosure in Raleigh North Carolina, Art Festival in Paducah, Kentucky, One of a Kind Show in Chicago, etc. Decatur, GA artist Corey Barksdale has painted for audiences in the city of Atlanta,

This video was created by Atlanta & Decatur Fine Artist Corey Barksdale. Please visit Corey’s website.

The song was written by a married couple, songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant. They wrote “Rocky Top” in only ten minutes in 1967. The Bryants were working in Gatlinburg on a collection of slow-tempo songs for a project for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins. Writing the fast-paced “Rocky Top” served as a temporary diversion for them. Recorded by the Osborne Brothers in 1967, the song was a top 40 hit on the country music charts in early 1968.

Although a staple of their concerts, the song did not achieve mass popularity until Lynn Anderson had a hit with it in 1970, and when the “Pride of the Southland” University of Tennessee marching band used it for one of their drills in 1972. The song was very popular and was officially adopted as a state song in 1982. In the 1970s, the song achieved such popularity among bar crowds that the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, old-time band the Red Clay Ramblers [1] national tours included a crowd-pleasing satire informally titled “Play ‘Rocky Top’ (or I’ll Punch Your Lights Out.)”[2]

The original “Rocky Top” song describes a place called Rocky Top, Tennessee, which is one of the three peaks of Thunderhead Mountain in Tennessee (located in the Smoky Mountains) in the eastern part of the state. The peak is actually located along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.[3][4]

Despite its fast and upbeat tempo, the song’s first verse is actually a lament over a failed love affair and a vanishing way of life. The song’s second verse is an ode to two apparent revenuers and the illegal production of alcoholic beverages by moonshining, with a reference to “looking for a moonshine still.” These are all common country music themes. With its good-natured regional references to a carefree lifestyle, the singing of “Rocky Top” by Tennessee college students and alumni at sports venues such as Neyland Stadium is well established. The University of Tennessee has been granted a perpetual license to play the song as much and as often as success on the field dictates by the copyright holders, House of Bryant.

Contrary to popular belief, “Rocky Top” is not UT’s official fight song, although it is so closely identified with the university that many believe this to be the case. UT’s official fight song is a radically different tune called “Here’s To Old Tennessee”, adapted from the Yale University fight song “Down the Field”.

“Operation Rocky Top” was the FBI’s code name for a public corruption investigation into the Tennessee state government in the late 1980s which resulted in the eventual suicide of the Tennessee Secretary of State, Gentry Crowell, and the incarceration of several other individuals, most notably state House Majority Leader Tommy Burnette. The focus of the investigation was the illegal sale of bingo licenses.

The jam band Phish played “Rocky Top” regularly from 1987 to 2003. There have been additional cover versions of the song by such country music artists as Dolly Parton, Conway Twitty, and Billie Jo Spears. It can also be known as the official fight song of David Webb, a noted band director in Central Virginia at Jefferson Forest High.

Here is Lynn Anderson’s version which launched the song to fame:


4 Responses to Rocky Top

  1. In the name of LSU & the rest of the SEC outside the state of Tennessee:


  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Football chauvinism is an ugly thing Michael! 🙂

  3. Nicholas Jagneaux says:


    I believe (or choose to believe, rather) that Mr. McClarey was inspiring everyone to cheer and sing-along with the Volunteers today, as they battle the detested Ole Miss Rebels.

    Without doubt, Mr. McClarey knows that Ole Miss has had some trouble with their own fight song; and that the school’s student government is encouraging its student body to shout “To hell with LSU” every time they sing the song.

    That kind of insolence needs to be drowned out. Hopefully even non-Tennessee fans can raise their voices to that.

  4. Nicholas Jagneaux says:

    Good ol’ Rocky Top,
    Rocky Top, Tennessee.

    Geaux Tigers!
    To Hell with Ole Miss!

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