68: Smoky Mountain Rain

68: Smoky Mountain Rain

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Smoky Mountain Rain

Story by Dennis Morgan

Song written by Dennis Morgan and Kye Fleming

Recorded by Ronnie Milsap

I’ve written a lot of songs with Kye Fleming, and I remember we were working on two different songs at the same time. One was called “Appalachian Rain,” and it just wasn’t happening; it wasn’t gelling. The other song was called “I Wonder What She’s Doing Now.” We were working on both of those on and off.

We heard that Ronnie Milsap was looking for material. He’s from East Tennessee. And Tom Collins was involved with this, too. He was producing Ronnie at the time, and he is also from East Tennessee, so the Smoky Mountains came into the conversation, and “Appalachian Rain” turned into “Smoky Mountain Rain.”

I’ve done some hitchhiking in my life, all over the country, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually hitchhiked from L.A. back to Knoxville. I just remember having a lot of trouble blending the two song ideas, but once the title of “Smoky Mountain Rain” came, the rest of it came fairly quickly.

Kye and I would sit and write every day for hours and hours, just bouncing around ideas. We had three different offices on Music Row where we used to write, and we wrote this in the Pi-Gem Publishing music office. We were both very serious about writing, and our combined imaginations played a big part in this song. I’ve never dated anyone from Knoxville, but I think you’re always subconsciously thinking about lost love from your past when you are writing songs.

I recently went back and listened to “I Wonder What She’s Doing Now” and I realized there was a reason that song wasn’t coming together. It was just a bad song.

Tom Collins eventually took “Smoky Mountain Rain” to Ronnie and he loved it. It ended up being a #1 for him. We recently found out that it has been named one of the official state songs of Tennessee. We were very honored when we heard that. That puts it right up there with “Tennessee Waltz” and “Rocky Top,” which have also been Tennessee state songs. To be in that kind of company is quite humbling.

When you write every day, you don’t ever really throw anything away. You just put it in the back burner of your mind. When you’ve written enough and learned enough, it’s just like combustion. Then when it comes time for the idea, you’re ready for it and you pull it out, and that’s what happened with this song.

Smoky Mountain Rain

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

CHORUS:

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 café

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?

CHORUS

BRIDGE:

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!

CHORUS

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