Few tunes capture the overall sound of iconic country group Alabama like “Song of the South”. And just over 27 years ago it went No. 1 on the Billboard country charts.
The song (and accompanying music video) captures the plight of the poor American farmer from the destitute days of the dust bowl, following a family that eventually sells the farm to the county and moves to the city.
From the flawless harmonies to a picking banjo and picking cotton (Alabama’s Randy Owen often talks about their days of picking cotton when they were younger), “Song of the South” is a true southern classic. What’s not to love about the lyrics, “Sweet potato pie and shut my mouth”?
Interestingly enough, Alabama did not write the song — in fact, it was written by Bob McDill and first recorded in 1980 by Bobby Bare. But it wasn’t until eight years later when Alabama chose to release as the lead single to their monstrously successful 12th studio album Southern Star. Prior to Alabama’s version, the song never got past No. 57 on the charts.
The music video was equally impactful, featuring classic footage of dust bowl farmers and out of work southerners juxtaposed with the few wealthy who could still manage to smile during the nation’s toughest economic times. It even adds a few words from FDR’s famous “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” speech.
Ultimately, it’s a tune honoring the resilience of the American spirit without sugar-coating the difficult truth so many Americans faced while building the country we love today.