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'Smoky Mountain Rain' Wins Race To Become 8th State Song

The competition to become Tennessee's eighth official state song has been won by "Smoky Mountain Rain," made famous by Ronnie Milsap.

The competition to become Tennessee's eighth official state song has been won by "Smoky Mountain Rain," made famous by Ronnie Milsap.

The House Budget Subcommittee unanimously approved the resolution (SJR966) designating the tune an official state song on Wednesday at its final meeting. A competing resolution (HJR817) to declare "So I'll Just Shine in Tennessee" a state song was left dead when the panel adjourned for the year.

The "Smoky Mountain Rain" resolution has already been approved by the Senate. The Budget Subcommittee vote was quickly followed by approval in the full House Finance Committee, clearing the way for final enactment on the House floor. (Update: It passed 95-1, the no coming from Rep. Donna Rowland.)

The resolution was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, while Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, handled it in the House.

Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, sponsored the competing song resolution and had previously declared that "Shine in Tennessee" was a "much better song" while Burchett said that, unlike the popular "Smoky Mountain Rain," it was boring.

Shaw said Thursday he had decided to let "Shine in Tennessee" wait for another year. His resolution called for sending copies of the resolution, if passed, to schools across the state at a cost of $6,800. The Burchett-McCord resolution had no such cost requirement and thus saved the state some money in a tight budget year, Shaw said.

The "Smoky Mountain Rain" resolution inspired some joking in the Finance Committee Wednesday night, where McCord, after describing the resolution, declared, "I would yield to Rep. (Richard) Montgomery (R-Sevierville) for an explanation and singing, please."

Committee Chairman Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, replied that the committee lacked the appropriate "karaoke machine" to accompany any singing. Montgomery nonetheless took his microphone and sang in a gravely voice the first line of the song.

The resolution was nonetheless approved unanimously.

Tennessee already has seven official state songs, more than any other state, "Tennessee Waltz" and "Rocky Top" being the most famous.

Here are the first three paragraphs of the 'Smoky Mountain Rain' resolution:

WHEREAS, made famous by country music legend Ronnie Milsap, "Smoky Mountain Rain" pays homage to the Great Smoky Mountains, which draw 2.2 million tourists annually to the State of Tennessee from around the world; and

WHEREAS, written by Nashville songwriters, Kye Fleming and Dennis Morgan, "Smoky Mountain Rain" tells the story of a special, enduring love of a Tennessee sweetheart and the storyteller's return to Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains in search of that which he holds most dear; and

WHEREAS, the Tennessee cities of Knoxville and Gatlinburg are featured as part of the storyline of the song;

by Tom Humphrey
KnoxNews.com

(Update: The song is official with House approving the resolution 95-1.)