Music

Remembering Alabama's Smash Hit 'Song of the South'

Screen grab from YouTube

Few tunes capture the overall sound of the iconic country group Alabama like "Song of the South". And in 1988 it went No. 1 on the Billboard country charts.

The country 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 (the band'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 country music 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.

Song of the South Lyrics

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Gone, gone by the wind

There ain't nobody looking back again

Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch

We all picked the cotton but we never got rich

Daddy was a veteran, a southern democrat

They ought to get a rich man to vote like that

Sing it

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Gone, gone by the wind

There ain't nobody looking back again

Well somebody told us Wall Street fell

But we were so poor that we couldn't tell

Cotton was short and the weeds were tall

But Mr. Roosevelt's a gonna save us all

Well momma got sick and daddy got down

The county got the farm and they moved to town

Papa got a job with the TVA

He bought a washing machine and then a Chevrolet

Sing it

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Gone, gone by the wind 

There ain't nobody looking back again

Play it

Sing it

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth 

Gone, gone by the wind 

There ain't nobody looking back again

Song, song of the south 

Gone, gone with the wind

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Sing it

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Gone, gone by the wind

Ain't nobody looking back again

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

Gone, gone by the wind

Ain't nobody looking back again

Song, song of the south 

Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth

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Remembering Alabama's Smash Hit 'Song of the South'