What Rhymes with Apalachicola?

Among its many other attractions, “CMA Music Festival: Country’s Night to Rock,” airing Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 8/7c on ABC, is a cavalcade of amazing songs. But there’s more to a song than how it sounds, as you’ll see from this series of interviews with the writers who created the latest, hottest hits by today’s Country superstars.

Story Behind the Song
“Southern Voice”
Recorded by Tim McGraw
Written by Tom Douglas and Bob DiPiero

Bob DiPiero

Bob DiPiero

Describe the birth of this tune.

DiPiero This is one of those songs that just sprang to life pretty much from the moment the title was mentioned. It was a title that Tom had.

Douglas Bob and I like to read. I particularly love some of the great Southern writers, like William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who seem to write with a unique and particular voice. I just jotted that down and mentioned it to Bob, and we were off to the races.

DiPiero I had my guitar in my hand and I was playing some changes to this rhythm going on in my head. And we just started giving shout-outs to the South – the writers and musicians, the major people from the recent South and even the past. It came together quickly, the chorus especially. We really worked on the verses, having the right people in the right order. But with the chorus, it was like taking dictation.


Tom Douglas

Tom Douglas

Douglas I went out to look something up on the computer because we were trying to list all these iconic Southern images, and when I came back Bob had formulated the structure of the song. I think we wrote it in a day and demoed it that afternoon. It was a joyful collaboration.

DiPiero The thing I found fun was to turn everything into a verb: “Hank Williams sang it. Number 3 rode it. Chuck Berry twanged it. Will Faulkner wrote it.” There are tons of list songs out there, but this song just started coming out that way and we followed it.

Douglas Bob came up with “Appalachicola.” I wouldn’t have thought of that word in a million years. That was really brilliant.

DiPiero That’s a place in Florida that I love – and I always wanted to use that word in a song [laughs]. It’s what I call a juicy word. It just laid in there perfectly. The whole thing with the Allman Brothers T-shirt and the gold cross – I can see that guy in my mind. And Tom really refined the verse melody. The melody for the chorus was pretty much there. It was one of those songwriting days you hope for. If I get a couple of those a year, I feel blessed.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw

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4 Responses to What Rhymes with Apalachicola?

  1. Eddie Guthrie says:

    This song is the best song of 2010. It has real southern pride. I wish more southerners would live up to the term “Southern Hospitality.” We all need to get back to our roots and out of the rat race. It’s “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you….. NOT “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

  2. Karen J.Raufeisen says:

    Love this song!! It is amazing how Bob DiPiero worked the Apppalachicola into the song!Tim sings it so good!Always great to hear about how a song came about!!

  3. ella bond says:

    You misspelled the name. It is Apalachicola — one p. Love the song! Thanks for writing it.

  4. patti says:

    I teach English in public schools and one of the qualities of good writing is that element of voice- the way someone one would say something, the words that they would use, their feelings about it. That is all part of voice- PErSONALITY. I have been delighted to use this song when I teach that writing principle. The song defines “voice” perfectly. Thanks to all involved with its production.

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