Our local entertainment guide, Metro Pulse, recently ran a story of popular songs which mention Knoxville. Most of these songs are about outlaws and this seemed depressing to me. But I had to consider the modern songs which mention my hometown, Birmingham Al. The two songs which I immediately thought of are; Sweet Home Alabama and Black Betty, "She's from Birmingham, Blam, Ba-damn," and this musical selection is pretty depressing too.
The saving grace is a song which does not mention Knoxville, much less B'ham, in the original version. Richard Thompson's 1952 Vincent Black Lightning received a reference to Knoxville when recorded by Del McCoury in 2001. Despite being one of the most talented singer-song writers alive, Thompson is not a widely known musician. He is a personal favorite of mine and has performed in Knoxville twice in the last three years. I suggest his recordings; Action Packed or Live from Austin City Limits for any interested in his style of folky-rock.
I'll paraphrase Matt Everett, author of the original article, for the rest of this story.
It’s a haunting, beautiful song, and if the tragic tale of Red Molly and the motorcycle outlaw James doesn’t move you to tears, there might be something wrong with you... McCoury also modified Thompson’s reference to Box Hill—“and down to Box Hill they did ride”—to “Knoxville,” giving the city yet another fist-pumping anthem of Appalachian anti-authoritarian defiance to go along with “Thunder Road” and “Copperhead Road.”