Tennessee is known for the Great Smoky Mountains on one end of the state and the Mississippi River on the other. There are also two major music cities: Nashville and Memphis.
With this mix of natural beauty and musical history, it's understandable there are many top songs about Tennessee. Read on to find out the best.
“Tennessee Whiskey” by Chris Stapleton
Song Year: 2015
If you're looking for songs about whiskey, this track by Chris Stapleton is one of the best. He grew up in Kentucky, home of many famous distilleries. However, this song is an ode to Tennessee whiskey, which he uses to compare to his love.
Stapleton says he doesn't need to go to the bar and drink whiskey because his partner satisfies him. She's smoother than whiskey and sweeter than fruit wine, so he gets all he needs from her company.
“Tennessee” by Arrested Development
Song Year: 1992
This song is Arrested Development's first single, sampling “Alphabet St.” by Prince. The rap group won a Grammy for the song, which still appears on countless “Greatest Songs” lists.
One of the rappers wrote the song after attending his grandmother's funeral in Tennessee. The lyrics address this loss, plus the death of his brother not long after. While sad about his family life, he realizes God is telling him to go home to Tennessee, specifically the country out past Dyersburg and Ripley.
“Tennessee Waltz” by Patti Page
Song Year: 1950
Patti Page was a famous pop and country singer who became popular in the 1950s. “Tennessee Waltz” was so well-liked that the state made it the fourth official state song in 1965, long before Page's tune entered the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The lyrics start with the singer dancing with her love to the Tennessee Waltz. She sees one of her oldest friends and stops dancing to introduce her partner and friend. The friend dances off with the partner, leaving the singer alone.
“Tennessee Rose” by Emmylou Harris
Song Year: 1981
Emmylou Harris is one of the most famous female country singers who paved the way when the industry was predominantly men. She didn't write this song, but her unique voice made it stand out as one of the best songs about Tennessee.
“Tennessee Rose” is a song about her love and what she'd do to be with them. She wouldn't trade time with them for anything made of diamonds or gold because she values them too much.
“This Ain't Tennessee” by Garth Brooks
Song Year: 1998
Garth Brooks is a huge name in the country music scene, and this song about Tennessee is one of his lesser-known tracks. The lyrics address the confusing life changes as a man enters the gates of a giant estate with palm trees all over the land. He has an ocean view but misses the mountain breeze and trees in Tennessee.
Along with the physical changes in the singer's location, he realizes that his new partner isn't the woman he loves the most. Overall, the lyrics give the impression that the singer became rich and famous and tried to upgrade his life but realized it wasn't what he wanted.
“Tennessee” by Sugarland
Song Year: 2002
Sugarland is a country duo that made it big in Nashville as a group. “Tennessee” is a song about a radio DJ who takes a phone request, even though that's not the norm these days.
The caller is desperate to reach out to his partner, who he lost but wants back. He requests a love song hoping she'll hear it and say “I do” to his proposal.
“Tennessee Homesick Blues” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1984
Dolly Parton is well-known for her musical legacy and philanthropy. She lives in Tennessee and even has a famous theme park outside of Nashville called Dollywood. With that background, it's understandable that she'd sing about her home state.
The lyrics address how New York City seems so harsh compared to Nashville. She's homesick for the Grand Ole Opry and the Great Smoky Mountains. Many people love the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, but Parton wants the slow country life back in Tennessee.
“Tennessee Stud” by Johnny Cash
Song Year: 1994
Like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash is another Tennessee musician with an impressive legacy. Cash grew up in Arkansas, moving to Memphis after his release from the Air Force. He worked as a radio announcer before auditioning for Sam Phillips at the legendary Sun Studios.
Tennessee Stud” is a song about a horse that helps Cash get through the mud in Arkansas as he tries to escape his sweetheart's father. Each verse tells of the adventure the narrator experienced on the house as he passed over the Rio Grande and back again. At the end of the song, he gets his sweetheart back without harm from her dad.
“My Tennessee Mountain Home” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1973
Dolly Parton is too big of a name in Tennessee to only feature once on this list. The lyrics of “My Tennessee Mountain Home” show how much she loves her home state. There's no need to do anything special—she sings about sitting on the front porch and enjoying a peaceful life.
While she watches kids play in the yard, she breathes the fragrant honeysuckle and hears the birds sing. She feels satisfied by walking, talking, and laughing with her love in this beautiful state.
“Tennessee Song” by Margo Price
Song Year: 2016
This song has the singer asking someone to return to Tennessee after spilling their soul over a bottle of wine. They consider taking Highway 64 or I-40, both major roads that cross the state. The singer misses southern life and hates living in a big city, feeling like that lifestyle poisons them against nature. They miss the mountains and valleys of Tennessee.