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Origins: Rocky Top

19 Mar 00 - 09:04 AM (#197624)
Subject: Rockytop
From: Paul S

Anyone have the chords to this song? I'm experiencing difficulty.

Also, a useless trivia question: Some time in the mid-70's (when I was just a little nipper), there was a family show on tv. The family lived in an old mill, or something with a waterwheel, and once in a while, the dad would pull out his guitar and play Rockytop for them.

That's all I can remember about the show; does anyone else remember this, or was this another one of my crack-baby hallucinations?

Thanks. Paul

19 Mar 00 - 09:46 AM (#197630)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Bill in Alabama

Working out of the key of G:

Wish that I was [C]on old [G]Rocky Top
[Em]HIGH in the [D]Tennessee [G]HILLS
Ain't no smoggy [C]smoke on [G]Rocky Top
[Em]Ain't no [D]bills

[Em]Rocky Top, you'll [D]always be
[F]Home sweet home to [C]me
Good old [G]Rocky Top, Rocky Top [F]Tenne [G]ssee,
Rocky Top [F]Tenne [G]ssee.

Hope this works for you.

Bill Foster

19 Mar 00 - 11:58 AM (#197673)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Sorcha

(ain't no TELEPHONE bills)

19 Mar 00 - 01:07 PM (#197708)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: dick greenhaus

Rocky Top (two words) is in the DT

19 Mar 00 - 01:46 PM (#197724)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Bill in Alabama

Sorry, Sorcha--I was so busy concentration on my newly-acquired (and marginal) html skills, that I left out the word.

19 Mar 00 - 01:48 PM (#197726)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Midchuck

I have heard that a song exists, entitled "Play Rocky Top or I'll Kill You," but I've never actually heard the song.


19 Mar 00 - 01:53 PM (#197727)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Sorcha

Are you sure it is not "IF You Play Rocky Top, I Will Kill You"? *BG*

19 Mar 00 - 02:07 PM (#197735)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Dale Rose

I saw Ricky Skaggs some years ago when he was still with Buck White and The Down Home Folks, and some _____ (pick your own noun to fit in there) in the audience yelled out, "Play Rocky Top!" Ricky was clearly dumbfounded and said, "Are you kidding??" He went on to explain, no they didn't do that, and the Osbornes weren't there. It is pretty obvious sometimes that certain members of the audiences know absolutely nothing about the groups that are performing or their repertoires.

About the TV show with the mill, seems I vaguely remember it too. Sunday nights, starring Ronnie Something?

19 Mar 00 - 02:21 PM (#197739)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: tar_heel

i'm sure sonny and bob osborne cry all the way to the bank,over"rocktop",but i will have to tell you. ROCKYTOP,is one of the greatest songs that i 'just can't stand to hear,sing,or perform anymore. it's just that once you hear it,it's one of those tunes that sticks in your mind the rest of the day, and it just drives me up the wall.(or to the top of rocky top...whichever comes first). sonny and bob,i love you both,but rockytop has come between us...sorta breaking up this great love-affair that i've had with your music and performnces over the years!!!! you know i'm not serious,but i just had to get it out of my system......whew!!!!,i feel better ,let's see,uh........mmmmmmmmmm...wish that i was on ole rockytop,down in the tennessee hills..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

19 Mar 00 - 02:41 PM (#197747)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: catspaw49

And friends, if you're in Tennessee at any bar and the band DOES NOT play "Rocky Top"...much as they may hate it...the band won't be coming back and will be in for a long night!!!


19 Mar 00 - 06:08 PM (#197808)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Mark Clark

As I recall, requests for "Rocky Top," "Orange Blossom Special," "Rocky Mountain High" and "Bonnie and Clyde[sic]" all came from the same folks, mostly "tourists."

My own attitude is usually that we're there to make a bunch of customers glad they came where we're playing to spend their money. I'm speaking of bars and clubs of course; a concert audience is expected to have some knowledge of the performers or else be there to learn.

I've known quite a few folks who would refuse (sometimes politely) to play requests they thought were trite or otherwise beneath them. One line I've heard used is "We don't know that one but here is one that has a lot of the same notes."

- Mark

19 Mar 00 - 06:58 PM (#197826)
Subject: RE: Rockytop

Mark, my favorite, um, denial of a request is when yahoo's in an Irish pub request Freebird. My friend politely flips them the bird and says, "No charge." Usually shuts them up.


19 Mar 00 - 08:40 PM (#197853)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Bud Savoie

Play Rocky Top--oh, that lady at the bar with the long, red fingernails. Play Rocky Top--I been trying all night and old Rocky Top never fails. I can't play no music, ain't got no hundred-dollar bill, But if you'll just play old Rocky Top, I know that lady will.

Darned if I can remember the name of the group that does that.

19 Mar 00 - 09:17 PM (#197858)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Sorcha

All of the above are exactly why Kate introduced herself on HearMe, with "Hii, mah naymes Kaate, an Ahm gonna sang Rocky Top?!"

19 Mar 00 - 09:23 PM (#197862)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: thosp

a guess --(on that tv show)i never saw the show -- but a couple of monthes ago i was watching a bio of doris day --and in one of her shows it seemed that she lived in a converted mill house --and a co-star i remember signing on a somewhat regular basis on the andy griffith show -- again it's just a guess--

peace (Y) thosp

19 Mar 00 - 11:38 PM (#197893)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: rangeroger

I mentioned in an earlier thread,that while hiking the Appalachian trail,I sang Rocky Top while standing on Rocky Top. There's a few friends of mine down in San Diego that I'll still sing it with when I see them.Usually for a bar crowd,they're not very dicriminating.

19 Mar 00 - 11:59 PM (#197907)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: E.Michael

20 Mar 00 - 12:32 AM (#197923)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Hardiman the Fiddler

Personally, I agree with Chuck. You can get awfully tired of some tunes. Amazing Grace is another one which I've played so much I think I'll go whacko if I ever have to play it again... I don't know what you can do with Rocky top, but Amazing Grace goes well with the tune to Gilligan's Island and also the House of the Rising Sun---either of which would not only get us thrown out of any bar in Tennessee, but any church as well.

I liked the line from the original Blues Brothers' movie,"Here's a list of requests..."

"that don't mean nothing, there just requests..."


20 Mar 00 - 12:47 AM (#197927)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: ceitagh

hardiman...personally i think amazing grace sounds better done to 'house of the rising sun' i wish i could get away with it in my choir. the words gain new freshness when you do that....and really, isn't it an appropriate tune to sing 'saved a wretch like me' to? You could tack Amazing Grace on the end of House of the Rising Sun as a sort of sequel or moral.

pax ceit

20 Mar 00 - 10:22 AM (#198054)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: GUEST,docmando

That show was called "Apple's Way" starring Ronnie Shel as George Apple. The house was remodeled from his dad's old flour mill. I can't remember him singing Rockytop, but at that age, I would have put it out of my mind anyway. "With wisdom comes age, but sometimes age comes all by itself"

20 Mar 00 - 10:49 AM (#198066)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Mark Clark

Yeah, I know there are tunes each of us would rather not hear or play again for a very long time. Our opinions, though, are not always shared by our audience (customers, financial supporters). It's fun in a jam session or song circle to moan about the over done material. In that setting we are among friends who understand our feelings. A public audience may not understand and I see no reason to insult them just so we can feel superior.

I think of the giants of traditional music forms whom I've seen in public and, to a person, none of them would allow their audience to feel slighted or insulted. They may not honor a request but they find a way of leting the requestor think they would love to do the tune if only there was time, or if only they had a Dobro player or whatever.

Bill Monroe used to ask for requests and, as members of the audience began shouting them out, he would simply wait until he heard one he felt like playing and honor that one. I can't think of any performer I admire who insulted the audience.

Listening to WSM on any given Saturday night, you might have heard Hank Snow singing "Movin' On," Roy Acuff singing "Great Speckled Bird," Mother Maybelle playing "Liberty," Bill Monroe singing "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and of course The Osborne Brothers singing "Rockey Top." Each of those songs must have long ceased to be musically interesting to such great performers but they knew what their audience wanted to hear and they were not going to let them be disappointed. I think that shows a lot of character.

- Mark

20 Mar 00 - 11:02 AM (#198069)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Dale Rose

Many, many years ago I remember Maybelle Carter guesting on Ralph Emery's late night radio show on WSM, "Ohhh, I'm soooo tired of Wildwood Flower!" She kept playing it, though, and we're all glad.

20 Mar 00 - 01:12 PM (#198137)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Cara

I really like this song. It reminds me of dancing around when I was a kid, and now I like to sing it because you can just open your throat all the way up and let'er rip. I've honestly never considered it to be in the overdone category. It's just too much fun. I think it speaks to the secret part of me that might like country music if I weren't so busy living in Washington and being urbane (or trying to!)

I've had years of cramped up city life trapped like a duck in a pen/All I know's that it a pity life can't be that simple again...

20 Mar 00 - 02:33 PM (#198174)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: GUEST,Bill in Alabama

Cara, then you would probably like the Osborne Brothers' Georgia Piney Woods also. It expresses much the same sentiment at about the same tempo. I believe that Boudeleaux Bryant (co-author of Rocky Top) wrote it as a kind of follow up to RTop.

20 Mar 00 - 03:37 PM (#198213)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Cara

Thanks BiA, I'll check it out.

20 Mar 00 - 03:46 PM (#198217)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Mary in Kentucky

When the University of Kentucky football team plays the University of Tennessee football team, the Big Orange fans always get real obnoxious with that song. (Especially if they're winning) I would probably like this song otherwise.

Mary (Big Blue fan)

21 Mar 00 - 10:58 AM (#198654)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Sourdough

Mark Clark -

I was thinking about adding something to this thread but had been putting it off for a day or so until I had time to think through what I wanted to say. You did it first. Thanks-


21 Mar 00 - 11:24 AM (#198663)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Mark Clark


I should probably follow your well-considered example. I tend to respond as soon as I feel the need and sometimes get off on a rant without meaning to. In fact, after I had reviewed my previous post, I added a line that read "Rant switch accidently left in the on position. Sorry." Unfortunately, I enclosed the line in unescaped less-than and greater-than symbols so it never appeared in the post.

Still, if we need to put down the audience in order to seem cool, we may not be as hip as we'd like to think.

- Mark

21 Mar 00 - 11:34 AM (#198669)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Mark Clark


I confess that I like the song as well, especially when performed by the Osborne Brothers. The song really needs their tight sound and Bobby's high tenor.

Another overdone OB tune I always liked to hear *them* do is "Ruby." It only worked with Bobby's voice but it was always a pleasure to see and hear them do it.

Bill (in Alabama),

Yes, Boudeleaux Bryant was a wonderful song writer. As I recall, he was the composer of many of the Everly Brothers great hits.

- Mark

21 Mar 00 - 07:36 PM (#198956)
Subject: RE: Rockytop
From: Dan Evergreen

Yeah, y'all are kinda diss'n this thread. It's not a bad song for someone who's not real good, to practice on, and it's got a pretty hard chord change...for someone who's not too good, to practice on. So I appreciate the question/answer.

21 Mar 00 - 11:05 PM (#199075)
Subject: Lyr Add: PLAY 'ROCKY TOP' (Bill Hicks)
From: raredance

(Bill Hicks)

Now I come down to this bar every evening
I get here just about ten
I been tryin' to get a little lovin'
Can't remember how long it's been
So if you'll just do me a favor
Play that song for me
I'll fix your car next Thursday
Throw in the lube and the oil for free.

Play "Rocky Top"
For the lady at the bar
With the long red fingernails
I been tryin' all night to get that girl
Ole "Rocky Top" it never fails
I can't play no music
I ain't go no hundred dollar bill
But if you'll just play old "Rocky Top"
I know that lady will.

Now some people think that I'm stupid
That's all right with me
Comw people can think about anything they want
Just as long as they let me be
I ain't got no education and I don't know how to spell
But I know what a good dried song sounds like
And I know how to raise some hell.


Well the money keeps getting smaller
And the rent keeps going up
I got me a little house trailer
And a brand new blue tick pup
I can't afford no regular woman
So this is what I'll do
You play "Rocky Top" for me
And I'll sing this song for you.

Recorded by the Red Clay Ramblers on "Chuckin' the Frizz" (Flying Fish FF089). Bill Hicks was a member of the Ramblers, primarily fiddle player but also guitar and vocals.

rich r