Hills of Tennessee

Beneath the Nashville skyline
There on Music Row
Songwriters churn out lyrics
Behind the laptops’ glow
Country stars go shopping
Looking for the perfect fit
A&R men roam the streets
Looking for another hit
While just a couple hours’ drive
And a hundred light years from the city
They’re blowing up the hills of Tennessee

The scope of devastation
Is a challenge to compare
If you’ve been to Hiroshima
Then perhaps you’re almost there
Cause that’s how much dynamite
Is used up every week
To make barren wasteland
From what was once a mountain peak
Where all the watersheds and rivers
And forests used to be
They’re blowing up the hills of Tennessee

They used to have miners
Send them underground
But people are expensive
So they found a way around
Just bomb the hills to hell
And buy off the EPA
With ten percent the workforce
And twenty times the pay
Do it in the name of God
And private property
They’re blowing up the hills of Tennessee

Like an invisible tsunami
Man-made and hidden from our eyes
Where every living thing is killed
And the rest of it just dies
For a four inch seam of coal
They’ll just wipe out life on earth
Look on the New York Stock Exchange
To see how much it’s worth
Sam won’t be making moonshine
No more banjo on his knee
They’re blowing up the hills of Tennessee

And back in Nashville
The cancer wards are filling up
They’ve got to filter the water
Before they put it in a cup
Can’t go vacation on Blair Mountain
Not here in real life
It’s only good for songs now
No place to take the wife
Cause there’s nothing left there
But mudslides and misery
They’re blowing up the hills of Tennessee

“Hills of Tennessee” appeared on the 2005 Soundclick release, Waiting for the Fall.

“Mountaintop removal” mining is not as widespread in Tennessee as it is in West Virginia, where last I checked they were using the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb, in terms of explosive power, per week in order to blow up the mountains and get at the coal within them. But it’s happening, and it’s horrible, and some friends of mine there are actively involved with opposing it.