State Songs

My Homeland, Tennessee

Adopted in 1925. Lyrics by Nell Grayson Taylor, music by Roy Lamont Smith.

First Verse

O Tennessee, that gave us birth,
To thee our hearts bow down
For thee our love and loyalty
Shall weave a fadeless crown
Thy purple hills our cradle was;
Thy fields our mother breast
Beneath thy sunny bended skies,
Our childhood days were blessed

Second Verse

’Twas long ago our fathers came,
A free and noble band,
Across the mountain’s frowning heights
To seek a promised land
And here before their raptured eyes;
In beauteous majesty:
Outspread the smiling valleys
Of the winding Tennessee

Third Verse

Could we forget our heritage
Of heroes strong and brave?
Could we do aught but cherish it,
Unsullied to the grave?
Ah no! the State where Jackson sleeps,
Shall ever peerless be
We glory in thy majesty;
Our homeland, Tennessee


O Tennessee: Fair Tennessee:
Our love for thee can never die:
Dear homeland, Tennessee

When It's Iris Time in Tennessee

Adopted in 1935. Written by Willa Waid Newman.

First Verse

Sweetness of Spring memories bring
Of a place I long to be
Land of Sunshine calls this old heart of mine,
Come back to Tennessee

Second Verse

Rocks and the rills deep tinted hills,
There's no spot so dear to me
Where'er I roam still it's my Home Sweet Home,
My own, my Tennessee


When it’s Iris time down in Tennessee,
I’ll be coming back to stay
Where the mockingbird sings at the break of day
A lilting love song gay
Where the Iris grows,
Where the Harpeth flows,
That is where I long to be
There’s a picture there that lives in memory
When it’s Iris time in Tennessee

My Tennessee

Adopted in 1955 as the official public school song. Written by Frances Hannah Tranum.

First Verse

Beloved state, oh state of mine,
In all the world I could not find,
Where God has strewn with lavish hand,
More natural beauty o’er the land
From ev’ry stream and valley green
His wond’rous art is ever seen
Ah, let my heart beat true to thee,
And swell with pride for Tennessee

Second Verse

Thy rocks and rills, and wooded hills,
My mem’ry keeps the childhood thrills
You gave to me, that I might know
The joys supreme, you could bestow
The song of birds, the whisp’ring trees,
The low of herds, the hum of bees,
It all comes back so dear to me,
My childhood home in Tennessee

Third Verse

Your battles fought, and vict’ries won,
Your freedom bought and duty done,
With daughters fair, and sons so brave,
To do and dare, their deeds they gave
Courageously, without a fear,
And won the name of volunteer
In sacred trust, let those who will,
By being just, preserve it still


Oh, Tennessee, My Tennessee,
Thy hills and vales are fair to see,
With mountains grand, and fertile lands
There is no state more dear to me
Thro’ other climes tho I may roam,
There will be times I’ll long for home,
In Tennessee, Fair Tennessee,
The land of my nativity

Tennessee Waltz

Adopted in 1965. Written by Redd Stewart, composed by Pee Wee King.

I was waltzing with my darlin’ to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
Introduced him to my loved one and while they were waltzing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost
Yes I lost my little darlin’ the night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz

Rocky Top

Adopted in 1982. By Boudleaux and Felice Bryant.

First Verse

Wish that I was on ol’ Rocky Top,
down in the Tennessee hills;
Ain’t no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top;
Ain’t no telephone bills;
Once I had a girl on Rocky Top;
Half bear, other half cat;
Wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop,
I still dream about that;

Second Verse

Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top,
lookin’ for a moonshine still;
Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top;
Reckon they never will;
Corn won’t grow at all on Rocky Top;
Dirt’s too rocky by far;
That’s why all the folks on Rocky Top
get their corn from a jar;

Third Verse

I’ve had years of cramped-up city life
Trapped like a duck in a pen;
All I know is it’s a pity life
Can’t be simple again


Rocky Top, you’ll always be
home sweet home to me;
Good ol’ Rocky Top;
Rocky Top, Tennessee;
Rocky Top, Tennessee

Tennessee (1992)

Adopted in 1992. By Vivian Rorie.

I do not know of another state
Where I had rather be
Than this great state I'm living in
And that is Tennessee.

I love the stars dearly
And there are surely three
That show the Grand Division
Of my home-land, Tennessee.

Where could you find a meadow
With grass so vividly green?
Where could you find the mountains
With such majestic scene?

You will never find so bright a moon
To shine down from above
You will also see the robin
The wren, and the turtle dove.

And don't forget the rivers
Where visitors long to stay.
And many have voice in parting,
'I'm sure glad I passed this way.'

You will see the cattle grazing
Beside a cotton field;
And there's the Grand Ole Opry
And a feeling it's all God's will.

I have lived here all my life
It's where I'm going to be
Although I've traveled quite a bit,
I'll still take Tennessee!

Oh, I sure love the state I'm in:
The great state of Tennessee!"

The Pride of Tennessee

Adopted in 1996. By Fred Congdon, Thomas Vaughn and Carol Elliot.

From the Smokie Mountain Mornings to the Mississippi shores
Let's take time to remember those who went before
Whose lives made a difference in the world for you and me
Their courage faith and vision are the Pride of Tennessee
Sequoyah was a Cherokee the chief of all his tribe
His people learned to read and write with the alphabet he scribed
When Tennessee became a State its Governor was clear
There was no better leader than the gallant John Sevier
From the backwoods to the Congress to his stand at the Alamo
Davy Crockett gave his life for the country he loved so

Three Presidents from Tennessee made impressions on this land
Jackson, Polk and Johnson were men who took a stand
Ida Wells Barnett fought bravely for the rights of men
When they were killed by prejudice for the color of their skin
He was drafted in the first world war though he did not want to go
His shooting skills made Alvin York a national hero

When women of Tennessee believed they had the right to vote
Ann Dallas Dudley led the fight and gave them hope
Cordell Hull had a vision for peace around the world
The United Nations where all countries' flags unfurl
From Beale Street down in Memphis to New York front page news
WC Handy's music made him father of the blues

Yes Courage, Faith and Vision are the Pride of Tennessee

A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap: 1796-1996

Adopted in 1996 as the Official Bicentennial Rap song to provide a fun and easy way for citizens and students to learn and retain some of our great state’s history. By Joan Hill Hanks of Signal Mountain.

Oh, how proud we are of thee!
Volunteer State since 1812 —
Glad our fathers picked here to dwell!

Presidents, Presidents - proud are we!
Jackson, Polk, and Johnson - three!
Crockett, Forrest, and John Sevier;
Alvin York and Hull lived here!

Baker, Gores, and Kefauver,
Served our country with honor!
U.T., Memphis and Vandy U.,
Tennessee Tech and Sewanee, too!

Appalachian Mountains, mountains high —
Reaching up in the smoky sky!
Tennessee River, flowing through —
We will cross near the Choo Choo!

Dollywood and Walking Horse Show!
Opryland and the Opry Show!
Whisky, whisky - sipping smooth —
Moon, Moon Pies and Goo Goo Goos!

Reelfoot Lake and cotton fields,
Natchez Trace and Civil War fields!
Mocking birds and raccoons grow,
And tulip poplars and iris show!

Bessie Smith and Memphis blues —
W.C. Handy and Elvis, too!
Eastman, Oak Ridge, and TVA —
Nissan, Saturn, and Country Music pay!

Chickasaw, Sequoyah, and Cherokee —
Cumberland Plateau and Mississippi!

Smoky Mountain Rain

Adopted in 2010. Written by Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan.

I thumbed my way from LA back to Knoxville
I found out those bright lights ain't where I belong
From a phone booth in the rain I called to tell her
I've had a change of dreams I'm comin' home
But tears filled my eyes when I found out she was gone

Smoky Mountain rain keeps on fallin'
I keep on callin' her name
Smoky Mountain rain I'll keep on searchin'
I can't go on hurtin' this way
She's somewhere in the Smoky Mountain rain

I waved a diesel down outside a cafe'
He said that he was goin' as far as Gatlinburg
I climbed up in the cab all wet and cold and lonely
I wiped my eyes and told him about her
I've got to find her!
Can you make these big wheels burn?

Smoky Mountain rain keeps on fallin'
I keep on callin' her name
Smoky Mountain rain I'll keep on searchin'
I can't go on hurtin' this way
She's somewhere in the Smoky Mountain rain

I can't blame her for lettin' go
A woman needs someone warm to hold
I feel the rain runnin' down my face
I'll find her no matter what it takes!

Smoky Mountain rain keeps on fallin'
I keep on callin' her name
Smoky Mountain rain I'll keep on searchin'
I can't go on hurtin' this way
She's somewhere in the Smoky Mountain rain

Tennessee (2012)

Oh Tennessee, I long to come back home.
I guess your dew has settled on my soul.
Everyday I stayed away,
You called my heart back, home to stay.
Oh Tennessee, I long to come back home.

Oh Tennessee, I’m missing you too soon.
Silver skies and lazy afternoons…
Silver clouds and golden moon,
You’re Mother Nature’s Tender Womb…
Oh Tennessee, I’m missing you too soon.

Your days, have such gentle ways
Aimless thoughts and windblown rhymes
Your nights sing such peaceful songs.
To a tired and weary mind.

Oh Tennessee, I’ve spent more than I’ve earned,
But I’m much richer now for what I’ve learned…
Money won’t buy peace of mind,
And peace of mind is what I’ll find…
Oh Tennessee, you treated me so kind.