High school bans Rocky Top fight song because its lyrics refer to moonshine

Cameron Smith
October 16, 2013

Rocky Top is among the nation's most instantly recognizable fight songs. It has a soaring refrain complete with an invitation for fan participation (whoo!) and is beloved by the entire state of Tennessee. In short, it's hard to go wrong with Rocky Top, unless you're at an SEC school that is just sick of seeing the Volunteers.

Evidently that wasn't enough good will for one Indiana high school, where administrators have banned the song because it makes reference to alcohol.

As reported by Indiana NBC affiliate WNDU and Fox affiliate WSJV, among other outlets, the Plymouth High (Plymouth, Ind.) band has been barred from playing Rocky Top at the school's football games after Plymouth Superintendent Dan Tyree decided that the song's reference to finding moonshine was inappropriate for use at a school-sanctioned event.

"Somebody brought it up to me a couple of weeks ago and said, 'You guys celebrate to 'Rocky Top' after every touchdown, and the song talks about going into the hills and living the good life and drinking moonshine,'" Tyree told WSJV.

"I think schools need to take a stand against the use of alcohol, and playing a song like that and celebrating to it after every touchdown -- and our school scores a lot of touchdowns. It just doesn't make sense."

As one might expect, the Plymouth student body was less than pleased with Tyree's decision, and decided to protest in the most active way it could think of: By continuing to sing Rocky Top during the team's most recent game, a capella style.

For the students, the justification for singing Rocky Top is clear: It's about tradition, not teenage alcohol use. Some have even claimed that they didn't know there was a reference to moonshine in the song until it was banned.

"It just says ‘once two strangers climbed old Rocky Top looking for a moonshine still,’ so, you know, I don't know what they were doing," Plymouth student Dan Mercer told WNDU. "Maybe they were trying to find a moonshine still and destroy it, they never specify in the song so maybe they’re trying to do good out there."

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