Tennessee Whiskey (song)

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David Allan Coe first recorded the song.

"Tennessee Whiskey" is a country song written by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove. It was originally recorded by American country music artist David Allan Coe for his album of the same name Tennessee Whiskey, whose version peaked at number 77 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1981.[1] George Jones' 1983 version of the song was included on his album Shine On, and reached number 2 on the Hot Country Singles chart.

The song has been covered by several artists, including Chris Stapleton, whose breakout performance of the song at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards with Justin Timberlake propelled the song to a greater level of popularity. Stapleton's version of the song has been certified 6× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Composition and David Allan Coe's recording[edit]

"Tennessee Whiskey"
Single by David Allan Coe
from the album Tennessee Whiskey
David Allan Coe singles chronology
"Stand by Your Man"
"Tennessee Whiskey"
"Dock of the Bay"

"Tennessee Whiskey" was written in 1981 by Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove. The pair decided to write a song together after meeting each other at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. He had an idea for the song for some time, and they went back to Hargrove's house to write the song at 4 o'clock in the morning.[2]

After completing it, the song was first offered to George Strait, but he turned the song down.[3] It was first recorded by American country music artist David Allan Coe for his album of the same name Tennessee Whiskey released in 1981. His version is recorded a traditional country style. Commercially, it peaked at number 77 on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.[4]


Chart (1981) Peak
US Billboard Hot Country Singles 77

George Jones version[edit]

"Tennessee Whiskey"
Single by George Jones
from the album Shine On
B-side"Almost Persuaded"
ReleasedAugust 1983
Producer(s)Billy Sherrill
George Jones singles chronology
"I Always Get Lucky with You"
"Tennessee Whiskey"
"You've Still Got a Place in My Heart"

The song was later covered by fellow American country music artist George Jones, whose version was released in August 1983 as the third single from his album Shine On. Jones' version reached a new peak commercially, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in November 1983[5] and number one on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.[6]

The song remained a mainstay in Jones' live set, with the singer often substituting the name of whatever city or town he was in for "Tennessee" in the second chorus. In 1985, he performed the song at the inaugural Farm Aid, and Coe joined Jones onstage to sing a chorus.


Chart (1983) Peak
US Billboard Hot Country Singles 2
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Chris Stapleton version[edit]

"Tennessee Whiskey"
Promotional single by Chris Stapleton
from the album Traveller
Music publications praised Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake's performance.[7][8]

American singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton recorded an R&B-influenced cover of the song for his debut studio album Traveller released in 2015.[9] Stapleton first sang his version on the spur of the moment while the band were playing during a soundcheck before a show in Charlottesville, Virginia. Stapleton and the band enjoyed playing the song, and he decided to sing the song every show.[10] His producer Dave Cobb heard the song and suggested that he should record the song for his album.[11] His cover was never officially released to radio as a single, but it was released as a promotional CD single.[12]

On November 4, 2015, Stapleton performed it at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards as a duet with Justin Timberlake. The performance was described as the best moment of the night by music writers.[7][8] Based solely on two days sales after the broadcast, it reached number one on the Hot Country Songs chart, and number 23 on Billboard Hot 100, selling 131,000 copies.[13][14] It peaked at number 20 on the Hot 100 the following week, selling a further 118,000 copies.[15][16] It was certified Platinum by the RIAA on May 4, 2016,[17] and reached over a million in sales in the US by January 2017.[18] It was certified 6× Platinum on July 31, 2019 for 6 million units in combined streams and sales.[17] It has sold 1.98 million copies in the US as of March 2020.[19]

Stapleton and Timberlake also performed the song at the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival[20] and at the Man of the Woods Tour's Nashville concert.[21] The song was nominated for ACM Song of the Year in 2017.[22]

Chris Stapleton[edit]

Chart (2015–17) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[23] 70
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[24] 39
New Zealand Heatseekers (RMNZ)[25] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 20
US Country Airplay (Billboard)[27] 57
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[28] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2015) Position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[29] 89
Chart (2016) Position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[30] 63
Chart (2017) Position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[31] 98
Chart (2019) Position
US Rolling Stone Top 100[32] 92


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[33] Gold 40,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[17] 7× Platinum 7,000,000double-dagger / 1,975,000[19]

*sales figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Other versions[edit]

Meghan Linsey performed the song on season 8 of The Voice in May 2015.[35] Her version charted on the country chart after her performance with 32,00 copies sold that week.[36] Deana Martin gave "Tennessee Whiskey" a new beat when she recorded it for her 2016 album Swing Street.[37] A YouTube video featuring Kris Jones at the wheel of his pickup truck, recorded by his daughter Dayla, went viral and has gained over 35 million views. It led to a performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.[38] In 2017, Stan Walker and Parson James released a version as a single.[39] Australian singer Judah Kelly covered the song on his debut album, Count On Me (2017).[40] Artist, Keke Wyatt also covered the song in 2017 for her album of covers called “Keke Covers” where she did an R&B inspired version of the tune, carefully not to stray away from its original country vibe.


Meghan Linsey[edit]

Chart (2015) Peak
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[41] 18
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[42] 28

In other media[edit]

In March 2018, it was announced that Tennessee Whiskey: The Musical, a play for Broadway and based on the story of Dean Dillon, is in the pre-production phase.[43]


  1. ^ David Allan Coe Billboard Singles
  2. ^ Casey, Jim (April 4, 2017). "Hall of Fame Songwriter Dean Dillon Shares the Story Behind "Tennessee Whiskey" and Talks His New Documentary". Nash Country Daily.
  3. ^ Whitaker, Sterling (March 2, 2019). "Remember Who Sang Chris Stapleton's 'Tennessee Whiskey' First". Taste of Country.
  4. ^ Riddle, Daisy (November 12, 2018). "The Original Version of "Tennessee Whiskey" By David Allan Coe". Country Daily.
  5. ^ George Jones Chart History
  6. ^ "RPM Country Tracks". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20.
  7. ^ a b Marissa R. Moss (November 4, 2015). "See Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake's Stunning CMA Awards Duet". Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ a b Grady Smith (November 5, 2015). "Chris Stapleton steals CMA awards show on career-making night". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Chris Stapleton on Why Stunning New Album 'Traveller' Isn't for Kids". Rolling Stone. May 7, 2015. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  10. ^ Cooper, Duncan (April 22, 2015). "Chris Stapleton: Country Music Is Doing Just Fine". Fader.
  11. ^ Moore, Bobby. "How 'Tennessee Whiskey' Evolved into a Modern Country Classic".
  12. ^ "Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey". Discogs. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Jim Asker (November 10, 2015). "Chris Stapleton Travels to Top of Country Charts Without Strong Support From Radio". Billboard.
  14. ^ Matt Bjorke (November 9, 2015). "Top 30 Digital Singles: November 9, 2015". Roughstock.
  15. ^ "Billboard Hot 100: November 28, 2015". Billboard.
  16. ^ Bjorke, Matt (November 16, 2015). "Top 30 Digital Singles: November 17, 2015". Roughstock.
  17. ^ a b c "American single certifications – Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 3, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  18. ^ Bjorke, Matt (January 23, 2017). "Top 30 Digital Country Singles Chart: January 23, 2017". Roughstock.
  19. ^ a b Bjorke, Matt (March 4, 2020). "Top 30 Digital Country Singles Sales Chart: March 2, 2020". Rough Stock. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  20. ^ Gold, Adam (September 24, 2017). "See Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton Reunite for 'Tennessee Whiskey'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  21. ^ McKenna, Brittney (May 10, 2018). "See Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton's Nashville Reunion for 'Tennessee Whiskey'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  22. ^ Bueno, Antoinette (April 2, 2017). "2017 Academy of Country Music Awards -- The Complete Winners List". ET Online.
  23. ^ "ARIA Chart Watch #419". auspOp. May 6, 2017. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  24. ^ "Chris Stapleton Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  25. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. January 16, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  26. ^ "Chris Stapleton Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 17, 2015.
  27. ^ "Chris Stapleton Chart History (Country Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  28. ^ "Chris Stapleton Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  29. ^ "Best of 2015: Hot Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2015. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
  30. ^ "Hot Country Songs – Year-End 2016". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  31. ^ "Hot Country Songs – Year-End 2017". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  32. ^ "Top 100 Songs of 2019". Rolling Stone. January 10, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  33. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Chris Stapleton – Tennessee Whiskey". Music Canada. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  34. ^ "British single certifications – Chris Stapleton". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 1, 2020. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Chris Stapleton in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  35. ^ LIEBIG, Lorie. "Meghan Linsey Performs 'Tennessee Whiskey' on 'The Voice' [WATCH]". Wide Open Country.
  36. ^ Bjorke, Matt (May 20, 2015). "Country Music's Top 30 Digital Singles: Week of May 20, 2015". Roughstock.
  37. ^ "Review - Deana Martin - Swing Street". Music Connection. November 30, 2016. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  38. ^ TheEllenShow (19 January 2017). "Singing Dad Kris Jones Performs 'Tennessee Whiskey'!" – via YouTube.
  39. ^ "Tennassee Whiskey (single) by Stan Walker and Parson James". iTunes Australia. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  40. ^ "Judah Kelly – Count on Me". AllMusic.
  41. ^ "Meghan Linsey Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard.
  42. ^ "Meghan Linsey Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  43. ^ Dauphin, Chuck (March 14, 2018). "Dean Dillon's Music Is Broadway-Bound With 'Tennessee Whiskey: The Musical'". Billboard. Retrieved May 15, 2018.

External links[edit]