For those traveling from the west toward East Tennessee, I-40 makes a sharp curve at the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau where it drops steeply to Rockwood. From that height, one can see the Smokey Mountains towering on the horizon, and all the wooded hills and valleys spread out between. Coming around that curve, I always feel a visceral thrill of homecoming. In August 2016 I made my quarterly trip to visit family in Knoxville and was inspired by that view to write this song.
Through an exceptionally dry autumn, news of forest fires in the mountains concerned many in the Appalachians. Then on November 28, hopes of rain turned tragic as wildfires were spread by gale force winds. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and surrounding areas of the Smokey Mountain National Park were devastated by fire. Many were killed and injured. Hundreds of buildings burned. And the beautiful mountains turned black with ash.
The tragedy inspired a third verse for this song, and an urge to make it available quickly in order to honor the suffering region. This recording is the raw song, as it first came out. But it is dedicated to all who live in and love the Appalachians, and especially to those who grieve losses and hope for new growth.
Thanks to the heroes who have battled these blazes for months with little thanks and less sleep, and to the preservers of the mountains who work tirelessly to defend, protect, and celebrate their beauty and heritage. Please pray and give to help those who have been displaced by these fires. Respond to specific needs by searching “East Tennessee Fire Relief.”
“My Mountain Home” was written by Jim Weber.
© Copyright 2016 Desperate Heart Music (ASCAP). All rights reserved.