Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
#1 (4 weeks)
July 17 – August 7, 1993
Radio & Records
#1 (2 weeks)
July 9 – July 16, 1993
Alan Jackson’s career explodes.
The Road to No. 1
Following the first two singles from A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love) going No. 1, Arista put out the carefree nostalgia track that gave the album its title.
The No. 1
“Chattahoochee” was huge.
Alan Jackson was already a pretty big star by the time it was released, with all three of his Arista albums certified platinum.
But “Chattahoochee” made him a multi-platinum artist, powering his third studio set to an eventual six million sales, and stimulating sales of its two predecessors to two million (Here in the Real World) and four million (Don’t Rock the Jukebox) in the coming years.
But was it really that good?
It’s as well-crafted a nostalgia tune as has ever been written, specific and personal in its details while conveying the universal experiences related to coming of age. If “That Summer” was an R-rated adolescent fantasy, “Chattahoochee” finds memories just as sweet in the PG-rated reality:
Well, we fogged up the windows in my old Chevy
I was willing, but she wasn’t ready
So I settled for a burger and a grape snow 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
A disservice has been done to this song over the years through the general erasure of the album version that was played on the radio at the time. The “Dance Mix” was used both for the music video and for his hits collection two years later, to the point that the original recording has gone down the memory hole.
That’s a shame because the song works better in its original form. It’s tight storytelling without an ounce of fat on it, and it’s better as a track driven by fiddle and guitar, instead of the heavy percussion of the remix.
The Road From No. 1
Jackson’s cover of “Mercury Blues” was chosen as the follow-up single, and it went top five. The final single from the album will top the chart in 1994.
“Chattahoochee” gets an A.
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