The rich history of the Volunteer State has been celebrated through music for many years. Song makers from both within and without Tennessee have created music that chronicles some of the state's most significant events. Railroad accidents, courtroom dramas, celebratory events, political races, weather disasters, labor strife, and more are all treated. The tragedy of the American Civil War had an especially strong affect on composers. Songwriters wrote of the battles and soldiers who fought in them both during the conflict itself and in the years following. The battles of Shiloh and Chattanooga (Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge) were especially well documented by songwriters.
The coming of the twentieth century brought many political, technological, and social changes to Tennessee. For example, the 1925 Scopes "Monkey" trial in Dayton drew nationwide interest as William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow argued the legality of teaching evolution in public schools. The colorful and social explosive subject matter seemed to grip musical imaginations and songwriters rushed in with a raft of "monkey" songs.