Alan Jackson is rightfully celebrated for honoring country’s rich past, but one of his most obvious hits pointed to the genre’s pop-friendly future. “Chattahoochee,” a cut from 1992’s A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love), became a single in May 1993. It topped the charts that August and remains one of the most loved singles from the same year that brought us Vince Gill’s “I Still Believe in You,” Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and others. The song shows a different side of Jackson’s nostalgic bent, celebrating youthful indiscretion instead of faith, family and other usual points of pride.
The Jim McBride co-write celebrates weekends “way down yonder” at the lake. It’s there that guys like Jackson fish for crappie, take their pickup trucks off-road and gossip about girls. A lot of Georgians tie these memories to the Chattahoochee River, a body of water that curves Southwest from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Union County. It bends all the way South to where the Lower Chattahoochee meets with the Flint River and Lake Seminole near the Florida panhandle and empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
It’s a mighty resource for both recreation-seeking Southerners and the Georgia Power Company. Georgia’s various redneck rivieras along “the hooch” include the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in Sandy Springs, Metro Atlanta’s Buford Dam at Lake Lanier, the George W. Andrews Lake in South Georgia, Goat Rock Lake in the central part of the state and Chattahoochee Bend State Park in Jackson’s home town, Newnan. Along the way, it serves as a natural dividing point between the city of Columbus and the Alabama border, Sandy Springs and Roswell and several Georgia counties–including Forsyth and Gwinnett County, Carroll and Fulton County and Fulton and Cobb County. The river system also crosses through other National Park Service sites and Confederate places of interest from the American Civil War.
A Meme-Worthy Good Time
By talking about river water in a context beyond baptism, Jackson might’ve inadvertently inspired more than his fellow fans of honky-tonk music. After all, the song shares themes with the more criticized works of someone like Kenny Chesney and others associated with hedonistic trips to where their favorite river flows. Although fans of the old-time way could argue that Jackson simply added some levity to traditionalism, dreaming up something that’s no less silly than “A Boy Named Sue.”