Dolly Parton loves to sing about growing up in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. But her most famous song about the state has to be “My Tennessee Mountain Home.” In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the Queen of Country wrote about her favorite line in the famous song and her inspiration for singing about the special one-bedroom cabin she grew up in.
‘My Tennessee Mountain Home’
“My Tennessee Mountain Home” was a No. 15 country hit and the title track of Parton’s concept album about her Smoky Mountain childhood. Later, it would be sung by folk and pop singer Maria Muldaur, country-rock singer Early Scruggs Revue, and Parton’s childhood favorite, Rose Maddox.
Walkin’ home from church on a Sunday with the one ya’ love“My Tennessee Mountain Home” by Dolly Parton
Just laughin’, talkin’, making future plans
And when the folks ain’t lookin’, you might steal a kiss or two
Sittin’ in the porch swing, holdin’ hands
Patron’s favorite line from the song comes in the chorus.
“One of my favorite lines in this song is ‘Life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh,'” wrote Parton. “We always had plenty of babies, and there’s nothing like holding a little baby after he’s bawled his head off and finally gone to sleep.”
Dolly Parton reminisces about her country home
Parton went on to write about the scenes from her childhood that inspired the song.
“I love being a mountain girl, a country girl,” she wrote. “And I’ve written so many songs about it. ‘My Tennessee Mountain Home’ really talks about sitting on a front porch, leaning back like we used to, singing, and having peaceful times. There were hard times, too. But when you grow up in the mountains, you’re not working every second. If it’s right after supper and you’re with your mom and dad, everything seems to be calm. There are those moments when you talk about peaceful things—lightning bugs out in the fields, kids running around doing whatever, and thinking back.”
Dolly Parton’s home was full of music
Parton wasn’t the only musician in her family. Her siblings played music and sang, as did her aunts, uncles, and cousins.
“We would all set out on the porch and play music,” she wrote. “We were always together, singing songs. Whether it would be aunts and uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters, we would kind of branch out into little groups. Whether it was a little trio that was asked to go sing at a funeral, or if it was a bunch of us that were asked to go play at a barn dance, we could do it. And we certainly all used to sing in church.”
The “9 to 5” singer has her family to thank for her versatile musical talent. She learned different instruments from different relatives.
“Most of us in the household learned to play early on,” she wrote. “Every time anybody would show up, any uncle or aunt who knew how to play an instrument, I’d have them show me how to play a little bit on the banjo, the guitar, an autoharp, or whatever instrument was around. I wanted to find different sounds, so I would just have anybody help me. Because I wanted to write songs.”