A songwriter explained the mystery behind one of Alan Jackson’s biggest hits

Alan Jackson turned out some of the biggest hits in country music in the 1990s.

But one song lyric had everyone scratching their heads.

And a songwriter explained the mystery behind one of Alan Jackson’s biggest hits.

Songwriter talks about the meaning of a line in Chattahoochee

The 1992 smash hit Chattahoochee became one of the most memorable songs of country music legend Alan Jackson’s career.

It reached number one on the country charts, and the catchy, up-tempo track became a crossover hit, becoming his first to enter the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Chattahoochee became a hit but not everyone was sure what it was.

Even country music icon Waylon Jennings wasn’t sure.

“I think Waylon said one time, ‘What the hell is a Chattahoochee?’” Jackson recalled.

The Chattahoochee River flows from northern Georgia to eventually form the border with Alabama into Florida.

Jackson, a native of Georgia, co-wrote the song with decorated songwriter Jim McBride, a native of Alabama.

That’s why McBride knew that Jackson would be familiar with the river when he began to write the song.

“Alan’s hometown of Newnan is relatively close to the Chattahoochee River, so I knew he would be familiar with it,” McBride recalled.

The pair got to work writing the song.

“So I started just fooling with the guitar and I got the first two lines and a little melody,” McBride said. 

“Well, way down yonder on the Chattahoochee / It gets hotter than a hoochie coochie,” the first two lines of Chattahoochee read.

Jackson came up with the next two lines to the song when they met while he was on tour.

“He spit out the next two lines almost immediately,” McBride said. “They just came right out.”

“We laid rubber on the Georgia asphalt / We got a little crazy but we never got caught,” the lines read.

They put together the rest of the song while Jackson was on tour.

But there’s one line in the song that fans have always wondered about.

“We got so many phone calls that Alan got tired of them, and he said, ‘Call Jim.’ So I’m getting phone calls from all over the country wanting to know what a hoochie coochie is,” McBride said.

Fans had some guesses about what it meant but it turned out that everyone was wrong.

“A county fair strip show,” McBride bluntly explained.

That was an unexpected answer for most fans of the 1992 hit.

Alan Jackson never thought that Chattahoochee would be a hit

Chattahoochee became one of the biggest songs of Jackson’s career but he was reluctant to release it as a single.

He thought that the rest of the country wouldn’t identify with a river in Georgia. 

“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,’” Jackson recalled. 

But the coming age of song connected with people because they had their own version of the Chattahoochee River. 

“The regular working people, the professional people, just trying to do the same things . . . make a living, raise a family, enjoy life,” Jackson explained. “I learned that there’s a Chattahoochee everywhere.”

And in the end, a song about a river in Georgia became one of the unlikely hits of Alan Jackson’s career.

*Renewed Right Official Polling*

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