Singer, songwriter, and record producer Tristan Baugh is from Sardis, Alabama and grew up loving country music. Since 2019, he’s written more than 150 songs.
His newest song “South of Tennessee” opens with a cymbals crash and an acoustic guitar layered over an electric guitar, and Tristan’s strong voice is convincing as he tells the story. Lyrics paint the scene of being in the country where boys think about fast cars and gasoline, not holding hands and giving a ring to a girlfriend. He mentions growing up to believe in God, when your daddy put the fear into you so you didn’t get in trouble. For those who did grow up and leave town, they stayed nearby.
I’m talking about the hometown feel, bonfire crowd
Barbed wire fences and tall pine trees
As Far as you can see
Down there in the local bar
There’s a brown eyed boy with a cheap guitar
Trying to find his way out from, A to B
Just South of Tennessee
The second verse talks about the lifestyle of a teenage boy, looking forward to beach vacations in Florida and Alabama college football games. He mentions the work ethic, how you worked like a man when you were 17, and it took away most of your summer. Like a lot of country music, there is beer on ice in the truck bed, as they are drinking in a farmer’s field somewhere. He adds that when they drove drunk, they always kept on the back roads to avoid being pulled over.
The song remains authentic and doesn’t seem pandering at all. When Tristan says, “Sweet tea, and Jesus in a cotton town, it’s where you raise a family when you settle down, “ he’s convincing.
In the final chorus, when Tristan mentions that boy with the guitar, he says, “Most don’t know he’s dead set to chase a dream,” and again, he’s convincing.
There's a clever effect in the final chorus, where they overlap the beginning lyrics with Tristan singing the title lyrics. It keeps the song intriguing without losing the feel of country life in rural Alabama.
You can imagine him hanging out with his friends, and growing up to leave town, but not too far away. He’ll always be “South of Tennessee.”
Click here to listen to “South of Tennessee”
Writer: Tristan Baugh
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