Thirty-eight years ago today, when Alabama released “Dixieland Delight” on January 28, 1983, little did they know it would become an instant Southern classic and crowd favorite.
Written by Ronnie Rogers and made famous by the country music band Alabama, it was the opening single from their album The Closer You Get.
Along with Rogers, Ed Bruce, Dave Dudley, Tanya Tucker, and others also co-penned the antebellum anthem.
According to Rogers, the song’s idea came when he was driving down Highway 11W— ironically, it’s a road in Rutledge, Tennessee, not Alabama.
The song’s imagery, with lyrics like: “Rollin’ down a backwoods, Tennessee byway; one arm on the wheel,” was the driving force behind crafting the tune.
Yet Alabama’s version of the song was much different than Rogers’ acoustic original.
In Rogers’ demo, you can hear the stark differences: he removed half the introduction, shorter fiddle bridges, and the fade-out arrives earlier.
Shortly after its release, it peaked at No. 1 on the country music charts in January 1983.
Fans fondly regarded it as one of Alabama’s most enduring singles. It also encapsulates so much of what makes 1980s country music great.
Even country stars have given it nods. Brad Paisley referenced the song in his single “Old Alabama.” Midland also gave it a shoutout in “Make a Little” and Russell Dickerson’s “Every Little Thing.”
Alabama’s Long-time Staple Song During Football Season
The song has also become a traditional fight song for the University of Alabama. For decades, fans proudly belt out the song at Crimson Tide home football games.
In 2015, the university officials briefly banned the after complaints about vulgar lyrics added in by fans. It was reinstated three years later, along with a plea from officials not to sing the modified rendition.
Alabama’s Athletic Director Greg Byrne, Terry Saban (wife of the school’s iconic head coach), running back Damien Harris, and the student body president Price McGiffert, announced that the long-standing tradition would return.
The song would come back as a permanent staple if students didn’t trade the original lyrics for the “colorful” ones.
Even though it’s in good fun, some fans weren’t thrilled about the crass version during games, such as at the 2014 Iron Bowl, a game where Alabama threw down with Auburn, 55-44.