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.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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Since it won’t get a post, I’d just like to register that even though I don’t hear it very often these days “Mercury Blues” still grates on me every time I do hear it thanks to the “Ford Truck” version that ran during what felt like every single commercial break on TV in the mid to late ’90s. It was basically that era’s version of “Fancy Like”.
Perhaps the consensus pick for the theme song of nineties country!
This is one of those songs that left across genre-lines. People who don’t like country music LOVE this song.
This gives you a sense of how close Jackson could come to Garth Brooks in pure fan appeal if he hadn’t of stuck so stridently to traditional country music.
Is this the apex of early 90’s country popularity?
Yet again, this was one of the songs that brought me to country music. This was one of the songs I had heard on the school bus and I wanted to hear it again, so I started listening to country stations to try to hear it , which soon led me to hearing the first countdown that started to seal my love for country music.
I admit that it wasn’t too long ago that I was just completely burnt out on this song, because it was always one of his most overplayed songs, at least in our area, and it’s been covered countless times by countless singers. It also didn’t help that it overshadowed nearly every other single from this album and many of Alan’s other songs that I thought were even better (imo). However, since it’s not played as much on the radio these days (heck, I hardly even listen to the radio now), and I haven’t listened to it myself voluntarily in a while, my stance on it has softened quite a bit more recently. It’s simply a fun, catchy song that stands the test of time, and it beats the pants off of most all modern day summer anthems you’d hear on the radio now. Heck, I’d imagine it’d sound more like Hank Sr. if it were to come on the radio today. It also helps that it’s actually based on Alan’s own experiences growing up, and it has some nice detailed songwriting which makes it authentic and keeps it from being a throwaway ditty. And who can not like that insanely catchy guitar riff? I completely agree with Kevin, too, that the original album version is way better than the remixed version.
I actually did get to hear this one when it was new on the few times I occasionally listened to a country station around this time in ’93, and I liked it back then. It even made it onto the only country tape I made in the summer of ’93. One of the other reasons why I’ve softened on this song recently is because it was always one of my step dad’s favorites, as well. He always liked Alan, but this was probably the one that made him even more of a fan of his. It’s also probably mostly the reason why he got me a used copy of the A Lot About Livin’ album for Christmas in 2004. :)
So while it’s still not one of my most favorites from AJ, simply because I’m not as much of a summer person, I do find myself liking it again thanks to nostalgia, missing my step dad, and a much needed break from it. As for his other overplayed summer anthem, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” weeelll let’s just say we’ll have to wait a lot longer for me to warm up to that one again, lol.