You can always count on Waylon Jennings to tell is like it is. A country music legend and pioneer of the “Outlaw Country” movement (even though he thought that title was pretty corny), when “Chattahoochee” hit country radio in 1992, he couldn’t help but ask Alan Jackson… what the hell is a “Chattahoochee?”
“I think Waylon said one time, Waylon Jennings, ‘what the hell is a Chattahoochee?'”
To be fair, unless you grew up near the Alabama/Georgia line, you’d probably have no idea as well. For those of you that don’t know, it’s actually a river that runs across northern Georgia, along the Georgia/Alabama border, and down into Florida.
And as it turns out, Alan was hesitant to release it as a single for the same reason.
“That’s why it was surprising to me when they decided to put ‘Chattahoochee’ out, I was reluctant because I said, ‘nobody is gonna know what that is.”
But according to Alan Jackson, Chattahoochee isn’t just a river, it’s a state of mind.
“The regular working people, the professional people, just trying to do the same things… make a living, raise a family, enjoy life…
I learned that there’s a Chattahoochee everywhere.”
AKA, Chattahoochee isn’t just a river or a song… it’s a lifestyle.
When Waylon Jennings said, "What the hell is a chattahoochee?"
He became just 8th recipient of the award which was created in 2012 and named after the great Willie Nelson, who is still crushing it at 89 years old.
The ever-gracious Mr. Jackson took the stage to give a very touching speech, thanking everyone who has been a part of his journey all these years for their support in helping him get to where he is (AKA becoming a country icon, but he would never say that).
My favorite part of his speech came when he talked about first moving to Music City with nothing but “three chords and a prayer,” as opposed to the typical “three chords and the truth” phrase you often hear thrown around in Nashville.
Presented by Carrie Underwood, it was definitely a highlight of the night, where we also saw a beautiful tribute to Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert lit up the stage singin’ “Geraldene,” Carly Pearce crushed her performance, Chris and Morgane Stapleton and Patty Loveless delivered a show stopping rendition of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” and Lainey Wilson and Luke Combs took home some very well-deserved awards.
All in all, it was probably the best CMA Awards show I’ve seen in a long time, and this was the cherry on top.
Here’s his full speech, congrats to King Alan on a very successful and important career that’s not even over yet:
“Thank you so much. Appreciate y’all singing, too, that was nice. Country music’s been real good to me, and uh, I fell in love with it when I was a young man. I really loved the instruments, the steel guitars, the fiddles, things like that that gave it such a unique character to me and made it its own.
And I love the lyrics in the songs, and the artists and the melodies and the harmonies. It’s real American music to me. One night watching television, this move came on about the life of Hank Williams, and it just really inspired me. I came to Nashville with nothin’.
Carrie was talkin’ about three chords and the truth, and I was more like three chords and a prayer. But the prayer got answered a little bit, but anyway, I’ve just been such a fan of this music and I wanted to come to Nashville and try to carry it on.
The kind that I loved… as my momma would say, I’m so blessed. And I have been so blessed. I’ve had a great team around me my whole career that have helped me, and great songwriters and just I’ve been so fortunate to have all that to help me get this far.
I can’t thank everybody that’s been in my life all these years, but I do have to say thanks to my wife Denise over there somewhere. We started out as teenagers, and she’s hung in there and rode this rollercoaster ride with me for 40-something years now. And I’m probably not always the easiest person to love, but she’s hung in there and helped me through hard times and we’ve shared great times.
The good, the bad, the happy and the sad, we’ve survived a lot and I just wanna thank her ‘cuz she’s held me up all these years and she’s my best friend. And she gave me a wonderful family over there. So thanks agin to the CMA and all the wonderful fans I’ve had all over the world. Appreciate y’all.
Radio and all the parts of country music that have been so good to me all these years. I’ve definitely lived the American dream, and let me have that award gal. And I’m still livin’ that honky tonk dream, y’all!”
Amen to that…
But really, you have to watch it for yourself. What a gem of a hum being Alan Jackson is: