On the heels of Tennessee's wonderful victory over Georgia this weekend, we'll take up our review of the great college football fight songs with the youngest of them all, Rocky Top.
Rocky Top was written in 1967 for the Osborne Brothers by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, who also wrote most of the Everly Brothers' hits. It was added to the UT band repertoire in 1976 and quickly became a Volunteer addiction. "You can play it 50 times, and they'll want to hear it again," said band director Harold Julian.
Wish that I was on ol' Rocky Top,
Down in the Tennessee hills;
Ain't no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top,
Ain't no telephone bills.
Rocky Top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me;
Good ol' Rocky Top--Rocky Top Tennessee,
Rocky Top Tennessee.
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top,
Half bear, other half cat;
Wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop,
I still dream about that.
Once two strangers climbed ol' Rocky Top
Lookin' for a moonshine still;
Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top
Reckon they never will.
Corn won't grow at all on Rocky Top
Dirt's too rocky by far;
That's why all the folks on Rocky Top
Get their corn from a jar.
I've had years of cramped-up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen
All I know is it's a pity life
Can't be simple again.
Note from Knoxville historian Jack Neely:
In a recent talk at Maryville College about the concept of Appalachia as an American fiction, I brought up the irony that Felice Bryant, co-author of Rocky Top, and Pee Wee King, co-author of the Tennessee Waltz, two of the most emblematically Tennessee songs, were raised in Milwaukee -- she Italian, he Polish. They may even have met each other as kids, maybe at a Schlitz picnic, and plotted their dominance of Tennessee’s musical iconography.
The other irony of the song I may have mentioned before: that the ominous ‘two strangers,’ presuming they were revenuers, were likely UT grads from the IRS or ATF office in Knoxville.