13 songs that mention Chattanooga, TN

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The Scenic City has inspired many more songs than just the iconic “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

In fact, our city has been the muse for a wide range of musical genres, from country ballads to bluesy tunes to rap and everything in between.

Chattanooga has been referenced in songs by hip-hop and country music stars that you may be familiar with, but there are plenty of lesser-known songs about our city waiting to be discovered.

Here’s a list of 13 songs that mention or reference Chattanooga, including a few lesser-known tunes:

“I Remember Me” by Silver Jews

“Hand in hand down a waterslide in Chattanooga
They did not hide from love you see
A winter’s plane flight to Aruba
Where he threw a boombox into the sea.”

Silver Jews was a band founded by singer, poet, and longtime Nashville resident David Berman. The extensive list of former Silver Jews band members includes multiple members of Pavement, Will Oldham, Paz Lenchantin, and others.

“666” by Sugar Candy Mountain

“Seen the view from Lookout Mountain
I’ve watched the Battle Above The Clouds
It was on the TV in the gift shop
Another war with the volume turned down”

Sugar Candy Mountain is a neo-psychedelic pop band from Oakland, California. Their music transports you to a sunny, psychedelic dream world. The band consists of Ash Reiter and Will Halsey.

“Missionary Ridge” by Bathe Alone

“Yellow streets
Viney trees
Chattanooga TN
Holdin on tight
Oh I dream of being here high where I see city lights
Hills of my life
Oh I can see over Missionary Ridge at night”

Bathe Alone is the solo dreampop venture of multi-instrumentalist Bailey Crone. The Atlanta, Georgia native handles drums, guitar, bass, and vocals, crafting tunes that you could “lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling to.”

“Chattanooga” by Doc Robinson

“Hey Chattanooga won’t you burn our breakup song
Cause you know Chattanooga

we’re the baddest motherfckers around
Said oh Chattanooga we thought we knew you
We always figured you’d be down for whatever but no
Chattanooga you’re just another neck in a hole”

Doc Robinson is a rock band from Columbus, Ohio that has toured with Caamp, Neal Francis, The Brook and the Bluff and more. Their songs have appeared in TV shows The Walking Dead and BoJack Horseman.

“Ghost” by Jack Harlow

“It’s a push start, I ain’t gotta put the key in
Whip it real nice like a good human being
24 East, I’m in Chattanooga, TN
Yeah the barbecue Korean and my shorty muy bien, ayy
We just went from dive bars to The Colosseum
Man he’s a try hard, wouldn’t wanna be him
PG, I’m the GM, go ‘head copyright it, TM”

Jack Harlow, a rapper and singer from Louisville, Kentucky, achieved platinum certification for his debut studio album “That’s What They Say” in 2020. He was awarded the title of Top New Artist at the 2021 Billboard Awards.

“Chattanooga” by Big Kitty

“Chattanooga, Tennessee
I think the world could see
but you can take it from me
it’s the place to be”

It’s challenging to pinpoint specific lyrical highlights from this sonic masterpiece by Big Kitty, the singer-songwriter formerly based in Chattanooga and now residing abroad. Released in 2016, many critics labeled the song’s exclusion from Grammy nominations as the snub of the year.

“Chattanooga” by Briston Maroney

“Way back before I knew ya
Met a girl in Chattanooga
and I think that she might even be the one
Still stuck on second chances
Cigarettes and old romances oh
And doing things I know should not be done”

Briston Maroney, a folk rock singer from Knoxville, Tennessee, gained his initial recognition by advancing to the final 30 contestants on the 2014 American Idol competition. He has performed at South by Southwest and Austin City Limits. His 2018 track “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” achieved RIAA Gold certification.

“Going Down” by Freddie King

“Let me down
And close that box car door
Yes, let me down
And close that box car door
Well, I’m goin’ back to Chattanooga
And sleep on sister Irene’s door”

Freddie King, a blues guitarist and singer from Texas, ranked #19 on Rolling Stone’s 2013 list of the 250 greatest guitarists of all time. The intro riff from “Going Down” gained further popularity when it became the opening theme song for the HBO show “Eastbound and Down.”

“Stopping By” by Jason Isbell

“How did your life turn out?
Do you ever think about
a teenage girl in Chattanooga?
You ever tell your folks the truth?
That might’ve been the last of you.
Would’ve been a shame. We hardly knew ya.”

Six-time Grammy Award winner Jason Isbell grew up in Green Hill, Alabama, about a three hour drive from Chattanooga. As a member of the band Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell performed in Chattanooga multiple times before branching out on his own and creating Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit.

“The Julia Belle Swain” by John Hartford

“The Julia Belle Swain is a mighty fine boat,
got a mighty fine captain too
Got a big red wheel that goes around and around
and a bunch of old hippies for a crew
Well I can’t stay here I gotta get away;
I’m Chattanooga Tennessee bound
Gonna get my banjo and put it on my back
when the Julia Belle comes down”

John Hartford, an American folk music legend, released 35 studio albums during his 34-year career. Hartford released his 1976 album “Mark Twang” after a four-year hiatus. During this break, he obtained his riverboat captain’s license.

“The Whirl and the Suck” by Johnny Cash

“When General Washington was in his knicker bocks
The Cherokee Indians through the Chattanooga rocks
And the Chickamauga tribe, and the Nickajack
They kept the watch where the river cut back
And if a raft or a boat ever rode the bend
The Indians got them ’cause they had them hemmed in”

Johnny Cash recorded several other songs that mention Chattanooga or reference the city, such as “Chattanooga City Limit Sign,” “I Drove Her Out of My Mind,” and “Chattanooga Sugar Babe.”

“Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy” by Red Foley

“Have you ever passed the corner of Forth and Grand?
Where a little ball o’ rhythm has a shoe-shine stand
People gather ’round and they clap their hands
He’s a great big bundle o’ joy
He pops the boogie woogie rag
The Chattanoogie shoe-shine boy”

In 1950, Red Foley propelled this song to success, charting for 15 weeks on the Billboard charts. Despite being recorded by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, their renditions didn’t match Foley’s level of popularity.

“Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller Orchestra

“Pardon me, boy
Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?
Yes yes track twenty-nine
Boy, you can gimme a shine
Can you afford
To board the Chattanooga choo choo
I’ve got my fare
And just a trifle to spare”

Of course, we couldn’t leave it out! “Chattanooga Choo Choo” was penned by Mack Gordon and composed by Harry Warren. It became an instant hit when the Glenn Miller Orchestra recorded it for the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. It was the first song to achieve Gold certification, selling 1.2 million copies.

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