One of my earliest memories with my father is driving to the lake, fishing poles in tow, in his old beat-up green Ford. We were on a backroad in Arkansas and our soundtrack for the day was The Essential Alabama (on cassette).
I grew up on “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight” and was blessed to be raised to the wonderful melodies of lead singer Randy Owen. Through their lyrics, Alabama raised a generation on good, old-fashioned Southern, country music lovers.
10 Alabama Songs that Helped Raise a Generation of Country Music Lovers:
1. “My Home’s In Alabama”
Alabama never hesitated to look back on their roots, bringing readers into a small, country home in Fort Payne, Alabama where God and family dominated every day and not just Sundays. A realism and truth of what the South was like 30 years ago pierces readers even today.
Drinking was forbidden in my christian country home.
Going along with the southern-by-the-grace-of-god mentality that Alabama maintained throughout their entire career, they sang to a claim that all of us Southerners have made at some point or another.
So I’ll speak my southern english,
just as natural as I please;
‘cuz I’m in the heart of dixie,
and dixie’s in the heart of me.
2. “High Cotton”
The best part of Alabama as a band was that they didn’t qualify under bro country. For the most part, they sang about what they knew. “High Cotton” is a perfect example of growing up in the South in a working class family and remembering your roots.
We Were Walkin’ in High Cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Those fertile fields are never far away.
3. “Tennessee River”
They taught us how to plan for the future, while in the present and honoring the past.
Me and my woman, done made our plans,
On the Tennessee River, walkin’ hand in hand.
Gonna raise a family, lord settle down,
Where peace and love can still be found.
4. “Dixieland Delight”
Alabama took us through the times when a girl made us feel like we were floating on a cloud. They taught us how to show our girl a good time in the South by using up every cent of the money we earned from working all week. And maybe other stuff too.
Rolling down a backwood,
One arm on the wheel,
Holding my lover with the other,
A sweet soft southern thrill.
5. “If You’re Going to Play In Texas”
They taught us many lessons, but maybe none more important than to know that if you’re going to play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band. We now know that a good, fast fiddle is the best way to get a group up and two-steppin’.
So rosin up that bow for “Faded Love” and let’s all dance,
If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.
6. “Mountain Music”
They blended borderline bluegrass lyrics with a Texas-style band in many of their songs including “Mountain Music.” Taking us to the Smokey Mountains, we took a break and found a quiet place to have fun and get away.
Swim across the river, just to prove that I’m a man.
Spend the day bein’ lazy, just bein’ nature’s friend.
7. “Christmas in Dixie”
And when it was Christmas time, Alabama took us on a journey through the South, exposing us to how everyone else was celebrating the holiday.
And maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights.
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight.
8. “The Fans”
Alabama never beat their chest. They were humble and did whatever they could to support their fans. They even wrote a song about them, that wasn’t a No. 1 hit, but was popular.
We hope you remember,
We’re just the boys in the band,
And what keeps the fires a burnin’,
Is always, you the fans.
9. “Angels Among Us”
Sometimes they just gave us something so real and so uplifting that it restored our faith in humanity, even if only for a short amount of time.
But ain’t it kind of funny, at the dark end of the road,
That someone lights the way, with just a single ray of hope.
Oh I believe there are, angels among us,
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above.
10. “Song of the South”
But no matter where we went with Alabama or what they sang about, they stayed true to the South and country music. They didn’t shy away from the truth, whatever that may be. They told us of complicated times and of simpler times. They made us laugh and they made us cry, but most importantly, they made us feel– and there’s nothing more important than that in a song.
Cotton on roadside, cotton in the ditch,
We all picked the cotton but we never got rich
Daddy was a veteren, a southern democrat
They oughta get rich man to vote like that.