Friday Five: The Great Smoky Mountains

Ken Morton, Jr. | June 15th, 2012

Happy birthday to the Great Smoky Mountains. Back on this date in 1934, these mountains became a national park. John D. Rockefeller contributed several million dollars of his own money to ensure the land was protected and preserved. Nowadays, ten million visitors go through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, making it the most-visited national park in the United States. When Franklin Roosevelt dedicated the park, he said, “There are trees here that stood before our forefathers ever came to this continent; there are brooks that still run as clear as on the day the first pioneer cupped his hand and drank from them. In this park, we shall conserve these trees, the pine, the red-bud, the dogwood, the azalea, the rhododendron, the trout and the thrush for the happiness of the American people.”

Along the way, the Smoky Mountains also inspired songs from many different artists. What are your favorites to add to this list?

5. Dolly Parton – “Smoky Mountain Memories”

With Dollywood in Pigeon Forge and her hometown in Sevierville, Dolly Parton is considered royalty in and around the SmokyMountains. Many of her songs along the years have covered the region. This gem was from a live album called Heartsongs released in 1994.

 

4. Ronnie Milsap – “Smoky Mountain Rain”

Relatively few songs have attained the chart popularity that this song achieved. It hit number one on both the country music and adult contemporary charts back in 1980.

 

3. Jack Turner – “Story of the Smoky Mountains”

This is a story-song from 1955 that provides the background of how the mountains got populated.

 

2. Dolly Parton – “Sha Kon O Hey”

This is the title track from the theatrical production Parton wrote for the show that runs exclusively at Dollywood. It means “land of the blue smoke” in Cherokee.

 

1. Tennessee Ernie Ford – “Smoky Mountain Boogie”

It only seems natural that a guy nicknamed Tennessee Ernie would sing a song about the mountain range in his namesake state. Go ahead and try to listen to this one and not tap your toe. I dare you.

 

  1. Jon
    June 15, 2012 at 11:02 am
  2. Barry Mazor
    June 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Yeah–the Mel Street and Larry Sparks’ versions of THAT SmoMo Memories” would be high on my list, too..

  3. Rick
    June 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    Since the word Smokey is part of today’s theme, I figure its the perfect time to plug the superb weeper “Smokey Lonesome” by Jeannie Kendall. Songs of this intrinsic goodness come along about one every blue smokey moon…

  4. luckyoldsun
    June 16, 2012 at 2:50 pm
  5. Jon
    June 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    “Smokey Mountain Memories” specifically refers to the Great Smokey Mountains (“’bout my home in Tennessee”); “On Top Of Old Smoky” doesn’t.

    Another one with a specific reference is Peter Rowan’s excellent “Trail Of Tears.”

  6. luckyoldsun
    June 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    True, but Hank Williams! sang “Top Of”!

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