In one of their more autobiographical lyrics, Howard and David Bellamy recreated their childhood in this song. Having grown up in the (then) off-the-map small town of Darby, Florida, it was not unusual for them to step off their back porch to find an alligator nearby. Going to the creek to fetch water for laundry was just a daily chore. As Howard told us, "Anybody can imagine how remotely we were raised in Florida. I don't know if you ever saw, back years ago, a movie called The Yearling or any of those old movies of rural Florida. But we were raised among the palmetto patches of Florida. Far removed. It was in the pine country of Florida, and it was pretty much how we were brought up. So getting a bucket of water from the creek was all real."
Howard laments that industry has taken its toll on the wilderness of his childhood. "To see Darby today, it's amazing what it's developed into. Now we're just one big development. But it used to be just beautifully wild, with rattlesnakes, moccasins, alligators, and just the way we were raised. I wonder how we survived it. You always went out into the woods when we were growing up. You were always a little bit in fear for your life, but it was some passionate side of that - just made you love that mystery of it. It's a very mysterious place. So yes, we are still very passionate about it."
The term "Whistlin' Dixie" is a Southern expression meaning "Talking Nonsense" ("Dixie" is a traditional song associated with the American South). If you "Ain't just whistlin' Dixie," you are saying something meaningful.