University of Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant left a lasting mark on Southern culture, making him a regional icon long before his 1983 passing.
With folk hero status comes country songs, either mentioning Bryant's legend in passing or devoted to the impact he had, not just on the Crimson Tide and the state of Alabama but also college football as a whole.
Read on for the five best examples of songs referencing Bryant's larger-than-life legacy.
5. "State of My Union," The Long Ryders
"Alabama football man, you got to try it/ Did I tell you my old man looks a little bit like Bear Bryant?" goes a line in country-inspired punkers The Long Ryders' musical rundown of what filled small town folks with pride, circa 1985.
4. "Southern Voice," Tim McGraw
Even die-hard LSU fans like Tim McGraw concede that Coach Bryant remains synonymous with the South, even if they tend to tie their admissions to some good-natured smack talk.
"I hate that part of the song," McGraw joked with reporters in Nashville (via CMT) over the lyric "Bear Bryant won it/Billy Graham saved it." "God! You know how many times I've tried to make 'LSU Tigers' blend in with that? But I couldn't do it."
3. "Bama's Tiny Giants," Don Lewis
One of the earliest (if not the earliest) songs about Coach Bryant lauds his ability in the '60s to coach up undersized recruits, such as the all-American quarterback of his first national championship team (1961), Pat Trammell.
Lewis' love letter to Bryant was issued in the '60s by Starday Records subsidiary Nashville.
2. "The Day Bear Bryant Died," Atlanta Rhythm Section
After watching the televised funeral procession of Bryant in 1983 during a songwriting session, the Atlanta Rhythm Section's (ARS) Buddy Buie and Ronnie Hammond captured how the moment made them feel as Alabama fans. "The Day Bear Bryant Died" got its proper release in 2006, which happened to be the year before Nick Saban began his ongoing run of success in Tuscaloosa.
1. "Bear," Roger Hallmark
With all due respect to the ARS, Roger Hallmark's hokey yet charming ode to Coach Bryant remains the Rolls Royce of songs about Alabama Crimson Tide Football. Hallmark hailed from the Birmingham area, and on this prime example of why it's worth collecting private press 45s from the early '80s, he's the earnest voice of Bama fans with fond memories of watching Bryant's six national championship teams.