Country Throwback: Alabama Released ‘Song of the South’ 32 Years Ago Today

by Halle Ames

As of 32 years ago today, Country music band Alabama released its iconic song, ‘Song of the South.’

In 1989, Alabama released the song “Song of the South” about a Depression-Era low-income cotton farming family. Along with the Alabama region being known for its cotton production, the band’s lead singer, Randy Owen, grew up surrounded by the farming culture.

What many people don’t know about the song is that it isn’t actually written by Alabama. Bobby Bare first recorded “Song of the South” in 1980, but it didn’t get much attention.

Johnny Russel recorded a version of the song, which reached number 57 on the Billboard country charts in 1981.

In 1982 Tom T. Hall and Earl Scruggs tried their hand at the song but only reached number 72 in their album Storyteller and the Banjo Man.

When Alabama did a cover of the song in 1989, it was a hit. The band released “Song of the South” in their album Southern Star. It became the number one song on the country charts in the US and Canada.

The Country Song’s Impactful Music Video

The music video also was impactful to audiences. It depicts a black and white video of poor farming families during the dust bowl. The clips show a struggling family that moves to a city after Wall Street crashed.

In the line “The cotton was short, and the weeds was tall, but Mr. Roosevelt’s gonna save us all,” the song references President Roosevelt’s New Deal plan for financial reform.

Midway through the song, Randy Owen is seen singing in the street with a town of people surrounding him while clapping along to the beat.

Color returns to the music video when it shows Alabama performing at a concert with many people on stage with them.

“Song of the South” ends with the chorus of people and audience singing without any instruments besides their claps.