December 22

A Crossover Hit: “Love in the First Degree”

The names Jim Hurt, Ian Moore and Tim DuBois are the composers of the hit “Love in the First Degree”. Plus, the American country music band Alabama recorded it. Released in October 1981 as the third single from the band’s album Feels So Right, it became the group’s fifth straight No. 1 single. In addition, it is their second multi-week No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart. “Love in the First Degree” became Alabama’s biggest crossover hit. The track peaked at the 15th spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1982. This came in just seventeen months after their first, “Tennessee River”.

Like the previous single, “Feels So Right”, it became the cornerstone of Alabama’s sound from the 1980s to 1990s. The sound gave them the unique pop “love ballad” style with a country-rock style. To date, “Love in the First Degree” still is one of Alabama’s most popular songs.

The song is mid-tempo with a strong country-pop beat. It compares the feeling of being found guilty of a love crime and the person behind throwing himself on the mercy of his beloved.

How “Love in the First Degree” Came to Life

The song came to Alabama’s recognition through Ben Hall, a song plugger. Ben sent it to Alabama’s producer Harold Shedd for House of Gold Publishing Company and songwriters Tim Dubois and Jim Hurt.

Tim calls to mind his insight into writing down the lyrics of the song. It happened when he was driving into work for a writing session at House of Gold. While tuned into WSM’s Jerry Minshall’s report, he heard a news story about someone found guilty of murder in the first degree. Well, it is true that nothing is uncommon about that, but on this very day, it hit him. His creative ner­ve sparked and on that very instant, he began composing the track.


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