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January 21

Here’s Some Alabama Songs As You Enjoy 1980’s Most Successful Country Band

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Alabama songs surprised everyone in the 1980s. The country music group was actually the ones that made country bands popular again. 

The band emerged in the late ’70s, with roots in both country and rock – in fact, most of Alabama’s musical concepts, especially the idea of a performing band, owed more to rock and pop rather than being hardcore country. However, no one could deny that Alabama is a country band – their harmonies, songwriting, and approach are indebted to country, especially bluegrass, and the sound of Nashville pop.

Hence, with their sleek country-rock sound and unique presence, Alabama became the most popular country group in history. They’ve sold more records than any other artist of the ’80s, set the record for most consecutive No. 1 hits in chart history, earned stacks of awards – and were also inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

While it’s quite impossible to narrow down Alabama’s extensive list of tunes to just ten favorites, we’ve ranked our picks below. 

10. When We Make Love

From: Roll On (1984)

After a series of uptempo hits, Alabama showed the world that they have a softer side too. “When We Make Love” – a love ballad that turned female hearts aflutter during the 80s – reached No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles.

9. Love in the First Degree

From: Feels So Right (1981)

Written by Tim DuBois and Jim Hunt, “Love in the First Degree” was Alabama’s biggest crossover hit as it reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1982. The song with a strong country-pop beat also reigned the top spot of U.S. Hot Country Songs for two straight weeks.

8. The Closer You Get

From: The Closer You Get … (1983)

Written by Mark Gray and Exile’s J.P. Pennington, “The Closer You Get” helped Alabama earn their second Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Group in 1983. The song went on showing the diversity of the band that originally broke through with traditional sounding hits like “My Home’s in Alabama,” “Tennessee River,” and “Old Flame.” By the time this track was released, the band was already gaining crossover airplay on adult contemporary radio stations.

7. Tennessee River

From: My Home’s in Alabama (1980)

Written by lead singer Randy Owen, “Tennessee River” was the band’s first single through RCA Nashville, and it went out to be the first of Alabama’s No. 1 hits – kicking off a string of twenty-one chart-topping singles. 

The song tells the tale of man who regrets leaving the place where the “Tennessee river and a mountain man” can “get together anytime we can,” and longs to go home once again to the place where “peace and love can still be found.” Owen, along with fellow band members Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook, grew up in Fort Payne, Alabama, where the Tennessee River flows nearby.

“Tennessee River” was included on several compilation albums by the group including a live version with an extra verse on their first Greatest Hits album released in 1986.

6. Feels So Right

From: Feels So Right (1981)

Randy Owen definitely got people talking in various formats with the lyrics of “Feels So Right” being a little suggestive at the time of the song’s release in the summer months of 1981. It reached No. 1 on U.S. Hot Country Songs, and was also Alabama’s first crossover hit, peaking No. 20 on U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Today, it remains one of Alabama’s most popular songs.

5. High Cotton

From: Southern Star (1989)

Written by Roger Murrah and Scott Anders, this nostalgic track is taking the narrator back to his childhood on a farm. Though he had little to no money and had to do a lot of hard work during that time, it was the happiest time of his life.

This song by Alabama may not be written by its members, but they were all familiar with the subject of “High Cotton” to make it their own. Both Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry grew up on cotton farms in Fort Payne, Alabama. Owen even once introduced this song at the Ryman performance: “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m here to tell you, me and Teddy know what it’s like to plant cotton, chop cotton, and pick cotton. We’re cotton-pickers… along with pick-up drivers.”

4. Dixieland Delight

From: ‘The Closer You Get …’ (1983)

Written by Ronnie Rogers, the idea for “Dixieland Delight” came to Rogers while he was driving down Highway 11W, a road in Rutledge, Tennessee. The song daydreams images of various forest animals and how they bring peace to him, before coming back to how he plans to become intimate with his girlfriend during their weekend outing. 

“Dixieland Delight” is one of the most enduring Alabama songs and has been closely associated with 1980s country music.

3. Lady Down On Love

From: The Closer You Get … (1983)

“Lady Down on Love” is a song about divorce that was told first from the woman’s side and the man’s perspective on the second verse.

Written by Owen, he revealed that the idea for the song came during one of the group’s performances at a hotel nightclub in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Owen discovered that a group of women was celebrating a friend’s divorce through a night out of town. However, the divorcée was not having a great time at all. She was rather mourning the end of her marriage and thinking about what should have been and that she should be at home with her husband.

“[Randy] was having supper one night, and there was a table of girls beside him that were celebrating this lady’s divorce,” Teddy Gentry explained. “He heard her say that she’d rather be in love with him and not be getting divorced. So that’s what inspired the song at the time.”

2. Mountain Music

From: Mountain Music (1982)

Another song written by Randy Owen, “Mountain Music” became one of Alabama’s most beloved hits after being released in 1982. According to Owen, the song took him three years to write and it captures some of his childhood memories. “I got a little trouble out of this song, too, because some of the lyrics were not discernible,” Owen said.

It’s also one of the few songs by Alabama that features Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook on lead vocals. “Mountain Music” became Alabama’s another No. 1 song on Billboard magazine’s Hot Country Singles chart. In the same week, the Academy of Country Music named the trio the Top Vocal Group and Entertainer of the Year.

1. Song of the South

From: Southern Star (1989)

Written by Bob McDill, “Song of the South” was recorded by several other artists, including Johnny Russell and as a duet between Earl Scruggs and Tom T. Hall. But it was actually Alabama who made it a No. 1 hit, proving that only a few bands can tell a captivating story through their music as well as Alabama could.

The song is a true southern classic, with the harmonious melodies and impeccably-plucked banjo strings thoroughly capturing the essence of the region. The song’s accompanying video, which was mostly black-and-white photos from the Depression era, has also been credited for its success.


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