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Song of the Day for October 21: "Rocky Top" by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Photo Gallery
Gerry Broome/AP
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AP
Fog settles on Price Lake as Grandfather Mountain glows in morning light while the sun rises along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Blowing Rock, N.C., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Sometimes, the best things are the least complicated. The husband-wife songwriting team of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant wrote “Rocky Top” in 10 minutes. The University of Tennessee marching band played the song for the first time October 21, 1972. They’ve never stopped playing it.

The Bryants were no songwriting slouches. They wrote the hits “Bye, Bye, Love” and "Love Hurts." They wrote “Rocky Top” at the Historic Gatlinburg Inn. They were working on a slow-tempo album for Archie Campbell and Chet Atkins called the Golden Years. Felice was frustrated and wanted them to write a more upbeat song for the album. “Wish that I was on old Rocky Top, down in the Tennessee hills,” Boudleaux said. That gave Felice an idea, and the couple finished in a flash.

The Bryants never said where Rocky Top was. Some people think it’s the 5,440-foot summit in the Great Smoky Mountains near the North Carolina border. It wasn’t far from Gatlinburg, where the song was written.

The Osborne Brothers were the first to record it. Lynn Anderson in 1972 had the most success recording. The song reached number 17 on Billboard's Country chart.

Saxophonist Boots Randolph played the song with the University of Tennessee band during a halftime show featuring country music. The fans loved it. The song is recognized as the best college fight song in the country. The Tennessee general assembly in 1982 made it one of the state's songs.