On This Day: Alabama Releases #1 Single ‘Old Flame’ in 1981

by Katie Maloney

Forty years ago today, Alabama taught us about unrequited love and relationships with their number one hit song, “Old Flame.”

Many of us have experienced what it feels like to love someone who is still sorting through feelings for their ex. It can be devastating to realize that the person you feel so strongly for is still in love with a previous partner. But what do you do? Do you end things right there and then? Or do you continue to love them hoping that the old flame will soon distinguish?

Alabama asks the same questions in “Old Flame.” During the song, they sing, “There’s an old flame, burning in your eyes. That tears can’t drown, and make-up can’t disguise. Now that old flame might not be stronger, but it’s been burning longer than any spark I might have started in your eyes.”

Unfortunately, Alabama doesn’t offer any clear-cut advice on what to do in this situation. However, simply knowing that we’re not the only country music-loving, hopeless romantics in the world is comforting.


Songwriters Wrote Alabama’s ‘Old Flame’ While Playing Frisbee

Sometimes simple hobbies conjure up our most devastating memories of past romances. At least, that was the case for songwriters Mac McAnally Donny Lowery. The two penned “Old Flame” while playing a game of frisbee.

After finishing the song, McAnally was determined to get Alabama to record it. The band had already recorded one of McAnally’s songs, “Woman Back Home,” for their album Feels So Right. However, the band never met McAnally in person until he showed up at their tour bus after a show. McAnally had a demo of “Old Flame,” with him and he told the band that the song was the best song he’d ever written. Alabama listened to the song on their way to their next tour stop.

Alabama was so impressed by the song that they recorded it last minute before releasing the Feels So Right album. They even bumped another song off the album to make room for “Old Flame.” “The song became the first single from the album. Additionally, “Old Flame” spent 14 weeks on the chart and peaked in the number one spot.

“Old Flame” even has its own tradition at Alabama’s concerts. Whenever Alabama plays “Old Flame,” audience members flash their lighters in the middle of the song. There’s less heartbreak in solidarity, right?