Alan Jackson Thought “Chattahoochee” Would Never Be A Hit: “The World Doesn’t Know What It Is”

Alan Jackson country music
Alan Jackson

Safe to say now, Alan Jackson couldn’t have been more wrong about this.

The country legend sat down with his daughter, Mattie Jackson, on her In Joy Life podcast a while back to talk about his Silverbelly Whiskey, as well as some of his early days in Nashville and how he got into songwriting, among other things.

He told her that he started writing his own songs out of necessity, pretty much, because he knew he couldn’t go to Nashville and just cover other people’s stuff if he was going to have a long and sustainable career.

That led him to talk about one song in particular that we all know and love, “Chattahoochee,” and how he actually never thought it would be a hit. Needless to say, it ultimately became one of the most iconic ’90s country songs of all-time, and was a mega, massive hit for the Georgia native.

The song was released to country radio in May of 1993 as the third single from his 1992 A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love) album, and received CMA awards for Single of the Year and Song of the Year. It peaked at #1 on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart later in 1993, and the rest as they say, is glorious country music history.

He told Mattie he never thought it would resonate so widely, because most of the country didn’t know what the “Chattahoochee” even was outside of Georgia:

“A lot of my songs I write out of my life are true experiences, but at the same time, they relate to other people.

An example that surprised me was when Jim McBride and I wrote ‘Chattahoochee’ years ago, just about the river that runs through Georgia that we grew up close to, and it filled the lake that we skied on some anyway.”

He added that he did like the up-tempo, fun nature of the song, but quickly learned that the magic of the song was that everybody has their own version of the “Chattahoochee,” and that concept was really universal:

“And when we cut that, it was a fun, up-tempo thing about coming to age… I thought ‘Well yeah, it’s a fun song and I like it, and people in Georgia are gonna like it, nobody in the rest of the country…  rest of the world don’t know what it is or care about it.’

But then I learned right quick that everybody has a Chattahoochee. It might be called something else, or might not even be a river at all, but the story was something people could relate to in their life, wherever they were from. So you just never know.”

And not only was it a career-defining song for Alan, he created an all-time great music video to go along with it, and what I love most about it is that no one else on the planet could pull of water skiing with jeans on…

How can you not love every last bit of this:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock