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'Chattahoochee': The Story Behind Alan Jackson's Ode to Youthful Indiscretion

Alan Jackson is rightfully celebrated for honoring country's rich past, but one of his greatest hits pointed to the genre's fun-in-the-sun future.

"Chattahoochee," a cut from 1992 album 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 other symbols of '90s country excellence.

The song shows a different side of Jackson's nostalgic bent, celebrating youthful indiscretion instead of faith, family and other usual points of pride covered in song throughout the Country Music Hall of Famer's longstanding working relationship with producer Keith Stegall.

Hillbilly Hedonism

The Jim McBride co-write celebrates summertime "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 their partners and/or crushes.

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 utility 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.

Read More: Country Rewind: Alan Jackson Tells Us to Keep it Country on 'Don't Rock the Jukebox'

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. Though old souls could argue that Jackson simply added some levity to traditionalism, dreaming up something that's no more silly than "A Boy Named Sue."

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This story previously ran on Aug. 6, 2018.

"Chattahoochee" Lyrics

Way down yonder on the Chattahoochee
It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie
We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt
We got a little crazy but we never got caught

Down by the river on a Friday night
A pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight
Talkin' 'bout cars and dreamin' 'bout women
Never had a plan just a livin' for the minute
Yeah way down yonder on the Chattahoochee
Never knew how much that muddy water meant to me
But I learned how to swim and I learned who I was
A lot about livin' and a little 'bout love

Well we fogged up the windows in my old Chevy
I was willin' but she wasn't ready
So I settled for a burger and a grape sno-cone
Dropped her off early but I didn't go home

Down by the river on a Friday night
A pyramid of cans in the pale moonlight
Talkin' 'bout cars and dreamin' 'bout women
Never had a plan just a livin' for the minute
Yeah way down yonder on the Chattahoochee
Never knew how much that muddy water meant to me
But I learned how to swim and I learned who I was
A lot about livin' and a little 'bout love

Yeah, way down yonder on the Chattahochee
Never knew how much that muddy water meant to me
But I learned how to swim and I learned who I was
A lot about livin' and a little 'bout love

A lot about livin' and a little 'bout love

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'Chattahoochee': The Story Behind Alan Jackson's Ode to Youthful Indiscretion