Alabama Is the Place to Be
Forget all those Alabama jokes you may have heard. Folks from Alabama are about God, football, and Southern charm. If you've never visited the Cotton State, you're missing out on a true gem.
Nicknamed "The Heart of Dixie," the state will delight the sightseer, history buff, nature lover, foodie, and you, too. From the pristine white sands of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach to the Civil Rights Movement landmarks throughout the state to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville—Alabama is the place to be!
Whether you have lived in Alabama (mansion or trailer park), vacationed there, or just passed through, celebrate the great state of Ala-Freakin-Bama with a playlist of pop, rock, country, and R&B songs. We have a long list to start you out!
1. "Paint Me a Birmingham" by Tracy Lawrence
When the man in this 2004 country ditty spots a painter on the seashore, he pays him $20 to depict his dreams on canvas, as if they are reality. The song narrator pines for a lost love and requests the beach artist to portray his former sweetheart.
She's wearing a cotton dress, and they reside in a little house with a wraparound porch on the edge of town in Birmingham. The lady in the painting is the one who got away. Perhaps you have your own Birmingham.
You can never rewind time, only move on. How long has this poor fella been aching for his lover's return? More importantly, where will he hang that new piece of artwork?
2. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
No matter how old you are or where you're from, you've probably heard this 1974 Southern rock anthem by Lyrnyrd Skynrd. Ironically, the band was formed by five guys who aren't from Alabama but rather from Florida. They named their iconic band after their former high school P.E. teacher, Leonard Skinner.
"Alabama" was their highest charting song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was intended as a response to rocker Neil Young's songs, "Southern Man" (1970) and particularly "Alabama" (1972), which called out the south for its troubled past in regard to slavery and racism.
Lynyrd Skynyrd name checks Young in "Sweet Home Alabama," believing he paints both the state and the south in general with an overly broad brush:
Well, I heard Mr.Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don't need him around anyhow.
The band and Young were fans of each other's music. This song, of course, had its own controversies.
3. "AA" by Walker Hayes
This amusingly honest 2022 country song is what life objectives all boil down to. The Alabama narrator acknowledges he's just another John Deere guy trying to make a living and
- keep his daughters off the stripper pole
- keep his sons out of jail
- get to church so he doesn't go to hell
- keep his wife from discovering that she married way down and
- stay out of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous).
4. "Midnight in Montgomery" by Alan Jackson
An eerie, unexpected encounter is featured in this 1991 country tune. Then again, what else would you expect in a graveyard? A singer on his way to a New Year's concert comes across the ghost of legendary cowboy crooner Hank Williams Sr. A modern day country musician reminisces about how he was heading to a concert in Mobile when he stopped by Hank's eternal resting place in Montgomery to pay tribute to the crooner. Instead, he met up with the apparition of the lonesome cowboy himself.
Liquored up and using morphine for a chronic back ailment, Hank Williams Sr. died of a heart attack at age 29 in the back of his powder blue Cadillac in the early hours of New Years Day 1953. He was on the way to a concert in Canton, Ohio.
The country star was born and bred in Alabama and is known for such hits as, "Hey Good Lookin'" (1951) and "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1953). He earned a reputation as an unreliable performer due to his alcoholism and addiction to prescription medication was ousted as a member of The Grand Ole Opry.
Posthumously, Williams was reinstated to the Opry, granted a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The troubled crooner was even awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his contribution to music. Broken men can do great things.
5. "Talladega" by Eric Church
Let's hear it for road trips. In this 2014 country tune, five young fellas bond in an old Winnebago belonging to the narrator's father that they fix up and take on the road to the Talladega motor speedway. They enjoy NASCAR and one last hoorah before the real world begins for them.
6. "Alabama" by Bishop Gunn
Doesn't this guy know that no good deed goes unpunished? This dark 2018 rock song tells the haunting story of a man who picks up a sexy, mysterious blonde who is broken down at a truck stop. Claiming to be a Christian who was saving souls in Savannah, the woman needs a ride to Alabama. The song narrator obliges then wishes he wasn't such a Good Samaritan.
He notices that in her boot she has a gun, and she changes the station when the announcer begins to report on a murder back in Savannah. With good reason, the narrator wonders if he will die in Alabama. The plot would make a great movie.
The Southern rock band Bishop Gunn is named after a tombstone they once spotted in Natchez, Mississippi.
7. "The Ride" by David Allan Coe
Hank Williams Sr.'s ghost is alive and well in this 1983 country hit. Well kinda. The apparition picks up a hitchhiker who thumbs a ride from Montgomery to Nashville.
As they ride in the ghostly antique Cadillac, the legendary singer, "half drunk and hollow-eyed" quizzes the young guitar player. He wants to know whether the young upstart has the passion, tenacity, and talent to make it in country music industry. Williams' ghost also cautions the young man that "if you're big star bound let me warn ya, it's a long, hard ride."
8. "Southern Star" by Alabama
In a mill too far from home, a shift worker in this 1989 country song finds himself working a meaningless manufacturing job. He looks to the night sky and yearns to be back in his old familiar surroundings. The blue collar working man asks the star to lead him back to his southern home.
He's probably looking at Sirius—also called Alpha Canis Majoris or the "Dog Star." It is one of the closest stars in our solar system and shows up as the brightest. Alternatively, he might be gazing at the planet Venus.
9. "Bama Breeze" by Jimmy Buffett
This 2006 country song celebrates the easygoing vibe that exists at the Gulf Coast landmark, The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package (aka The Bama Breeze). The honky tonk style bar features pool playing, beer drinking, laughing, arguing, and good-timing. Located just feet from the Florida-Alabama line, the well-known watering hole technically resides entirely in Florida.
10. "Honky Tonk Highway" by Luke Combs
Some musicians downtalk life on the road, but not the performer in this 2017 country ditty. He's at home on the stage, but you have to get from place to place first. As he tries to catch some shut eye heading down I-65 through Alabama to Birmingham, touring in his motor home, the singer looks forward to playing the bars, scoring a one-night stand, and slugging some whiskey. Afterwards, he'll heading home to his honey on the Honky Tonk Highway. This is what living the neon dream is like.
11. "Sunday Birmingham" by Suzy Bogguss
In this poignant 2021 country song, a singer has been on the road for two weeks and stays overnight in Birmingham after a Saturday night show. She finds that folks are nice there and "Sunday Birmingham is a damn fine place to be" with its blooms, church bells, and the scent of hickory smoke in the breeze. Sounds like a nice place to vacation, too.
12. "Postmarked Birmingham" by Blackhawk
Sometimes when a love relationship goes off the rails, a clean break is required. The man in this 1997 country goodbye song finds himself on the receiving end of goodbye when he is left by his lover with no forwarding address.
In an era before social media, the only indication of where she is comes from a two-paged letter he receives in the mail and written on Ramada stationery. The postmark says Birmingham, 200 miles south. The narrator doesn't know whether she's living there now or whether she mailed the letter on her way out of town. He waits for more word from her that may or may not come.
13. "Stars in Alabama" by Jamey Johnson
Feeling homesick, Alabama-born singer-songwriter Jamey Johnson calls his mom from the road in this 2008 country tune. He's in Tennessee and is a musician trying to make his mark on the world. While offering the talented entertainer encouragement with his career, she misses her son and reminds him to come home to visit her in Montgomery every now and then:
God put stars in Alabama
To help you find your way back home.
14. "My Home's in Alabama" by Alabama
The road to success isn't easy, and the bittersweet memories of home continually beckon you back to a place that is familiar. In this 1980 country tune, the Grammy Award-winning band from Fort Payne, Alabama sings about paying their dues in the music industry by playing local barrooms and then moving to Nashville, L.A. and finally going national.
Despite never having enough money and not having found love yet, they feel content making music because they feel understood by audiences nationwide. The band also expresses pride in their roots as well as longing for home:
I've lost so much of me but there's enough of me to say
That my home's in Alabama
No matter where I lay my head
My home's in Alabama
Southern born and Southern bred.
15. "Ala-Freakin-Bama" by Trace Adkins
In this 2010 country number, Trace Adkins pays tribute to the Heart of Dixie. This good ole' gal with the Talladega tan, the pink 'Bama do-rag, and the tight white t-shirt is sure proud of where she's from: Ala-Freakin-Bama.
16. "What Was I Thinkin'" by Dierks Bentley
We know what the country boy in this humorous 2003 hit was thinking and what he was thinking with. Taking risks in the name of love, the young lad sneaks out and meets beautiful Becky from South Alabama out by the front gate one night.
Unfortunately, Becky has a hard-hearted daddy who comes out waving his shotgun for some reason. He peppers the narrator's tailgate as the couple drives away in the narrator's pickup truck. (What kind of man shoots at a vehicle with his daughter inside?)
With the county police hot on their heels, Becky and her suitor tear off through a corn field, eventually ending up at a honky tonk for some close dancing and drinking. When the country loverboy finally takes her home at about 2 a.m., her angry daddy is waiting to continue the chase scene from earlier. Apparently Becky's daddy isn't ready to let her do her own thinkin' when it comes to love. To be honest, nobody's thinking in this country song.
24 Singers & Musicians from Alabama
Hank Williams Sr.
Little Big Town
Eddie Kendricks (of The Temptations)
Chuck Leavell (of The Allman Brothers Band)
Martha Reeves (of Martha and the Vandellas)
Tommy Shaw (of Styx)
Nat King Cole
Eddie Levert (of The O'Jays)
Big Mama Thornton
17. "Birmingham" by Zach Bryan
If you haven't heard much buzz about Zach Bryan yet, then you will. Bryan is an alt-country singer-songwriter from Oklahoma. His music went viral after he posted it to YouTube while serving active duty in the military, thus landing him a record deal and favorable comparisons to country legends Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.
This emotionally raw 2020 murder ballad is told from the killer's perspective. The narrator reflects on a murder he committed as he awaits the consequences of his crime. He explains that a man tried to rob him in Birmingham, and he killed him with a tired iron. He claims, "I did not want to, but I had to show that boy the real me." After perpetrating the crime, the narrator fled and has since been working in the oil industry.
Although he initially claims he doesn't give a damn about the killing, it's later clear that he feels trapped and guilty. As he justifies the killing to himself and the audience, he waits for the long arm of the law to come fetch him.
18. "Nothing Sweet About Alabama" by The Lost Trailers
While "Sweet Home Alabama" may be the most famous song to celebrate the Cotton state, this 2020 country ditty gives a shout out to some of the things that make Alabama distinctive. The song mentions Muscle Shoals (where some of America's most iconic records were recorded) as well as the Redneck Riviera coastline, moonpies (an acquired taste), and the Grammy-winning gospel group, The Blind Boys of Alabama.
As special as the state is to the the narrator, however, he's having a difficult time finding the good in Alabama since his farm grown little sweetie stole his guitar and headed up to Nashville with it. His skies are gray, and he's hoping that she's headed straight back for Montgomery. So far, it's not looking good.
19. "Halfway Back to Birmingham" by Mark Chesnutt
When you love someone, you want to be with them (even if they have to live near their mama). In this 2000 country tune, two teenage lovebirds just out of high school get married at a courthouse. Crazy in love, they leave Alabama for Miami only to find after a few months that the young wife misses her mother back home too much to stay. She leaves Florida, and her young groom chases after her, realizing that his heart is halfway back to Birmingham.
20. "Hello Birmingham" by Ani DiFranco
The tragic relevance of this 1999 folk rock song is just as fitting now as it was when it was released. The song concerns the violence against abortion providers who are trying to help women exercise their reproductive freedoms. Specifically, the narrator references the 1998 assassination of OB-GYN Dr. Barnett Slepian, an abortion provider in Ani DiFranco's hometown of Buffalo, New York, as well as the 1998 bombing of a Birmingham abortion clinic. DiFranco has been open about having two abortions herself and references the experience in the song. She urges voting as a means of securing the future.
Even More Songs About the Great State of Alabama
21. Deep River Blues
Hall & Oates
22. North on 21
23. Angel from Montgomery
24. Alabama Clay
25. Mobile Blue
26. Old Alabama
Brad Paisley (Featuring Alabama)
27. Alabama Sky
28. Becky's Back in Birmingham
29. Stars Fell on Alabama
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
30. Auburn Bound
31. Alabama Pines
Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit
32. Bus to Birmingham
John Michael Montgomery
33. Alabama High-Test
Old Crow Medicine Show
34. Bethlehem In Birmingham
35. Alabama Getaway
36. Goin' Back to Alabama
37. Mississippi Kid
38. Mobile Bay
39. Train to Birmingham
41. Birmingham Turnaround
42. Alabama Sundown
43. Boulder to Birmingham
44. Birmingham Sunday
45. Where I'm From
46. Alabama Rain
47. Chicken & Biscuits
48. Poor Man Blues
49. God Bless Alabama
50. End of Time
The Band Perry
51. My Montgomery
52. Running Just in Case
53. Shoeshine Man
Tom T. Hall
55. Take Me Home to Alabama
56. Dreamy Alabama
Atlanta Rhythm Section
57. Birmingham Jail
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