East Tennessee

I grew up on this mountain
Came back here to dwell
Maybe have a family
Plant some corn and dig a well
I was all done with the Army
Back from Vietnam
Where I learned how to shoot a rifle
And how to set a bomb

I grew up on this mountain
It’s in my very soul
So when the company moved next door
Started digging for the coal
Tearing up the mountain
With drillers and draglines
I knew then what needed
To happen to those mines

10, 9, 8 Sometimes that’s just how it goes
3, 2, 1 Get out before it blows

The guard, he was sleeping
On duty thru the night
I stepped gently on the ground
And stayed well out of sight
I tied sticks to the equipment
Switched the timer on
Then I knew that in ten seconds
These dozers would be gone


I had to leave the mountain
I headed to the west
The cops were on my trail
And I figured it was best
And I figured I did my small part
To make the world free
In my humble manner
In East Tennessee


Chord Charts for Selected Songs

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“East Tennessee” originally appeared on the 2009 CD, Ten Thousand Miles Away. Later it got the full band treatment on Big Red Sessions, in 2011.

Long before the existence of the Earth Liberation Front, people were burning shit down and blowing shit up. Depending on who you ask or why they did it, people might refer to such actions as ecoterrorism, monkeywrenching, industrial sabotage, or other terms. When someone(s) blew up two mines, one in east Tennessee and one in eastern Kentucky in the same month or so in 1968, it was covered in the news. Many decades later, I read the article, shared with me by Tennesee environmental lawyer Chris Irwin. Whoever committed the act apparently never got caught. Chris and I talked about what kind of personal story might have motivated the person who did this, and I wrote this song based on that conversation.