“Song of the South” is a song written by Bob McDill. First, Bobby Bare, American country musician, made a cover of it in his 1980 album Drunk & Crazy. A version by Johnny Russell rocked the US Billboard country chart at number 57 in 1981. From the album Storyteller and the Banjo Man, Tom T. Hall and Earl Scruggs recorded it. This version of theirs peaked at number 72 in 1982. A cover released by American country music group Alabama hit the number 1 spot on both the US and Canadian country charts. The song is from their album Southern Star in November 1988.
Among the first crossover country acts, Alabama played at large performance venues. They incorporated arena-rock-style production and sounds into their shows. Singing, playing their instruments and writing their songs, the band stirred a trend. It was toward the formation and promotion of self-contained bands in the country music industry.
THE MEANING OF THE SONG
The song is about the story of a poor Southern cotton farm-family during the Great Depression.
Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch
We all picked the cotton but we never got rich
Well, somebody told us Wall Street fell,
but we was so poor that we couldn’t tell
In these lines, it mentions President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
The cotton was short and the weeds was tall,
but Mr. Roosevelt’s gonna save us all
The father of the cotton-farm family is a Southern Democrat.
Daddy was a veteran, a southern democrat
They oughta get a rich man to vote like that
After their mother falls into illness, they lose their property.
The county got the farm and they moved to town
In the end, the family lives comfortably after searching for a life out the countryside.
Well, Papa got a job with the Tennessee Valley Authority
We bought a washing machine, and then a Chevrolet
Steve Boyle, the director of the music video, compiled black-and-white photos of the South during the 1930s. Moreover, he added several footages of members of the band in black and white. Lastly, other Southern actors were included to give the illusion that it was the 1930s when it was filmed. The content of the video mainly follows the song lyrics. During the chorus, the video turns to color. As the colors are showing, a large crowd which is fronted by the band members is marching down the street of a small town. At the end, the video is also in color and shows Alabama playing at a concert after which, random people came onto the stage.
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