February 3, 2012
1973 | #15
These days country radio is peppered with songs about where the singer supposedly grew up. Though often commercially successful, they tend to fail on an artistic level. Why? They very often lack some vital ingredients: Detail. Authenticity. Sincerity. That’s why Dolly Parton’s classic “My Tennessee Mountain Home” outclasses nearly all of them.
The single “My Tennessee Mountain Home” served as the centerpiece to Parton’s 1973 concept album of the same name, in which Dolly sang of her childhood memories of growing up in rural Tennessee, as well as her journey toward country music stardom in Nashville. Contrasting with the mood of “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad),” which is much bleaker, “My Tennessee Mountain Home” plays like a simple laid-back celebration of Parton’s roots. The song is ripe with vivid imagery of Parton’s childhood home, where “Life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh,” which quite fittingly imbues an authentic lived-in quality to Parton’s performance. And while it’s become common in modern times for backwoods-origin songs to adopt an attitude that is exclusive or confrontational, Parton’s “Tennessee Mountain Home,” with its warm accessible melody, practically grabs you by the hand and invites you to stroll through the countryside along with Dolly.
Though the single didn’t distinguish itself in Parton’s catalog from a chart perspective, topping out at #15, it has gone on to become one of Parton’s best-loved career hits, as well as a theme song for Parton’s successful theme park. An unabashedly charming, sincere performance that, nearly four decades after its release, still sounds just as endearing as ever.
Written by Dolly Parton
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