17 Of The Best Songs About Alabama: The Heart Of Dixie

Last updated

Alabama is home to more than five million people, but the subject of plenty more songs than that. From classics of rock to vacation love songs, Alabama is one of the most recognizable states when it comes to the jewels of the South.

If you’ve been looking for the best songs about Alabama, we’re here to help. Whether you’re a Skynard fan or a Deadhead, there’s a song for you to love. Read on for 17 of the best songs about the Heart of Dixie.

1. “Sweet Home Alabama” By Lynyrd Skynyrd

Who hasn’t heard Lynyrd Skynyrd’s classic song about the Heart of Dixie? “Sweet Home Alabama” celebrates the South and the rich history therein, serving directly as a strike back against critiques of the region.

The song itself was written in response to Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” There, Young brings the entirety of the South into the limelight for a history of slavery and the effects slavery had on the nation. Lynyrd Skynyrd rejects this depiction, even name-checking Neil Young in the song.

That said, it’s worth looking at both sides of the songs. Alabama isn’t without a smudge on its history, but that doesn’t mean Lynyrd Skynyrd’s anthem of the South doesn’t ring just as true.

2. “Song of the South” By Alabama

Can you truly make a list of songs about Alabama without mentioning the band Alabama? This group has so many hits celebrating the South that we could make a whole new list just about them!

“Song of the South” is another greatly known anthem of Dixie. Originally written by Bob McDill, the Alabama version has become one of the most well-known songs in all of music.

Following the plight of American farmers from the Great Depression and forward, it’s a truly sad song that we still belt out at the top of our lungs every time the radio starts to play it.

But just like “Sweet Home Alabama,” this track isn’t without controversy. “Song of the South” is also the name of an old animated movie with the same name that depicts the South in a different light.

With severely racist stereotypes throughout the whole movie, many equate the song to hold similar themes due to the names.

3. “Alabama High-Test” By Old Crow Medicine Show

With Old Crow Medicine Show, the controversy is instead held for the band themselves. The song tells the story of a narrator caught by authorities while driving under the influence. Just as the name suggests, he’s being given a “high test” in Alabama to see if he’s enjoyed a few too many substances.

The stakes are high in this song too. The narrator states that if the test catches him, he’ll be thrown in jail for sure. It’s written with a hint of comedy and high energy, but learn from the narrator and never drive through Alabama (or anywhere else, for that matter) under the influence!

4. “My Home’s in Alabama” By Alabama

With our second Alabama track, we have “My Home’s in Alabama,” which says it all just in the title. Through the track, the narrator makes it clear that his home remains in the Heart of Dixie no matter where he goes.

We listen as the narrator lists the places he’s been and the people he’s met. Struggling with faith and the attention of women that only loved his music, our narrator travels the world. From Los Angeles to Nashville, New York City, and everywhere in between, his home stays in Alabama.

As the song ends, we hear the repeated chant “Southern born and southern bred.” Few phrases highlight Southern pride better than Alabama’s words here.

5. “Alabama Pines” By Jason Isbell

Another track about making it home is Jason Isbell’s song “Alabama Pines.” Here, we listen to a narrator pining for home, having moved into a room only recently. The air conditioning is broken, the parking lot is loud and bright, and there’s no way to get enough sleep.

Instead, Isbell laments the traffic in Talladega and alternate routes through Jacksonville. He warns listeners to watch their speed through Boiling Springs, highlighting how nitpicky and annoying the cops in his new home are.

Through it all, he wants nothing more than to return to Alabama. Reminiscing of home, a former lover, and old shops he wants to go through, the track has nostalgic homesickness that everyone can relate to regardless of where they’re from.

6. “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” By The Doors

American band The Doors come with a psychedelic rock song that’s been the theme of many an Alabama bender. “Alabama Song” looks for the next whisky bar over and over, and the stakes are high. If they can’t find their whisky bar, their only recourse seems to be death.

With a strange carnival-esque instrumental and dreamy, mournful vocals, the song calls on the moon of Alabama to find another whisky bar. Their journey has them looking for the next “little girl” as well.

Overall, it’s an eerie and strange song. While it likely won’t make the shortlist of songs about Alabama pride, it’s certainly something plenty of drinkers have shouted through their bar crawls.

7. “Ala-Freakin-Bama” By Trace Adkins

How much enthusiasm can you squeeze into a name! Trace Adkins comes through with a lively song ripe with pride over the Heart of Dixie. However, much of the song focuses less on the state itself and more on an infatuation with a girl from Alabama instead.

Spotting a woman with a pink Alabama do-rag and Timberland boots, Adkins is in love at first sight. Sporting her pride in her home state, our singer begins listing all his favorite things about Alabama in hopes of winning her favor.

From Roll Tide to Skynard, he lists everything he can. By the end, he’s chanting her state’s name just to get her to come his way.

8. “Alabama Getaway” By Grateful Dead

“Alabama Getaway” is another jailbird song, but there’s more being flaunted here than a high test. Instead, the Grateful Dead is trying to avoid a fight with someone from Alabama.

It’s an upbeat song that encourages their nemesis—whoever that is—to run, stating that they hope he has the sense to do so and mention knocking out all 32 teeth if he does not. They even invoke biblical passages to pray for the man’s soul!

It’s a violent, if groovy, track that puts Alabama in a not-so-flattering limelight. Nevertheless, it is worth the listen.

9. “Stars Fell On Alabama” By Billie Holiday

Composed by Frank Perkins, lyrics by Mitchell Parish, and popularized by Billie Holiday, “Stars Fell on Alabama” is a swanky love song that focuses on the lights of Alabama when reflected in a lover’s eyes.

It recalls the narrator’s heavenly evening with her love and how it was like a fairy tale. That being said, it’s a classic jazz standard and has been recorded over 100 times by some other huge artists like Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, and Harry Connick Jr.

“Stars Fell on Alabama” is truly a love song that keeps the Heart of Dixie close to its essence.

10. “The Three Great Alabama Icons” By Drive-By Truckers

“The Three Great Alabama Icons” is a unique song amongst this list, and indeed outside of it as well. Rather than being verses and choruses, the Drive-By Truckers wrote an epic poem here.

The song takes the form of a short story on the album Southern Rock Opera, and it lives up to its name. Talking about going for music instead of football and how this led to social ostracization, the narrator winds his way through the passages with ease.

It’s a unique and conceptual song with a strange focus. While it’s not the sort of tune you’d blast in your car, it’s something true to the heart of Alabama nonetheless.

11. “The Alabama Waltz” By Hank Williams

One of the influential American singers of the twentieth century, Hank Williams penned this song about his home state, honing in on how the state makes his worries disappear.

There aren’t many words to this song—it’s just two stanzas to be exact—but the namesake Alabama waltz is a dance he does with his lover, letting his worries melt away in their arms.

Simple, catchy, and romantic, this track highlights the relaxing down-home nature of the Heart of Dixie better than nearly any other song you can find.

12. “Merry Christmas, Alabama (Never Far From Home)” By Jimmy Buffet

When most of us think of Jimmy Buffet, we usually think of sandy Floridian shores and beachy getaways. But with this track, we see him coming to the Cotton State to wish Christmas across the South.

In this song, the December holiday is truly a season of greetings as Alabama is far from the only song on the list. Buffet wishes Merry Christmas to the Florida Keys, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and more.

It’s a lovely holiday song that can be at home in your country playlist or your holiday mix!

13. “Midnight in Montgomery” By Alan Jackson

“Midnight in Montgomery” is possibly the saddest song on this list, and while it takes place in Alabama, it isn’t quite an anthem of pride. Instead, the song seems to be about the late Hank Williams, a friend of Alan Jackson’s.

After speaking to the ghost of a friendly drunk man, Jackson walks through Montgomery and Mobile. As he listens to the whip-or-will, he stares at the stars and drinks in the natural beauty of his state, thinking he can still hear the songs of his friend in the quiet of the night.

14. “Angel From Montgomery” By John Prine

Staying in Montgomery, we have a song just as sad but without the tear-jerking story. John Prine sings about becoming an angel in “Angel From Montgomery.”

He takes the point of view of a middle-aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage. Tired of her unsatisfying life, she asks God to turn her into an angel instead. Once that’s done, she intends to fly away from Montgomery and find an old rodeo instead.

Though it’s about escaping Montgomery, the state of Alabama itself seems fine, assuming the narrator can leave the marriage.

15. “Paint Me a Birmingham” By Tracy Lawrence

Country singer Tracy Lawrence’s song “Paint Me A Birmingham” focuses on Birmingham and homesick feelings of seeing the city again. It narrates how he found a painter as they were creating a landscape of waves and deep ocean.

When the painter said he could paint anything for twenty bucks, our singer takes advantage of this and asks for a painting of Birmingham. Describing the city in vivid, loving detail, he takes us to the city with him. Asking to be painted back in “her arms,” the painter makes Lawrence’s dream of going home come true.

16. “All In Alabama” by Hank Williams Jr.

Such a list cannot be complete without a song from Williams Jr., son of the earlier mentioned Hank Williams. “All In Alabama” is the clear winner from his discography. Leaving Alabama to prove he could, Williams Jr. finds himself missing home instead.

Dying in Montana and begging to be back in Alabama, our singer reflects on his life. After losing his grandfather and worrying he’d never sing again, he asks the Lord to return him home so he can hold Alabama’s hand and feel happy again.

Whether you’re from Alabama or another state or country, for sure you can relate to the homesickness Williams Jr. is experiencing through this song.

17. “Alabama” By Neil Young

Closing out our list is a song from the legendary Neil Young. Unlike most of the songs mentioned here, it isn’t a celebration of the Heart of Dixie.

In this song named after the state itself, Young reflects on the ruin of Alabama and a stark contrast between wealth and poverty. Wondering what’s gone wrong, he states that the devil has made his home there in the Cotton State.

Despite the slightly dark lyrics, Young says the song is not about Alabama, but listeners would probably still wonder.

Summing Up Our List Of Songs To Do With Alabama

From country icons to critiques of the socio-economic structure, there are enough songs about Alabama to fill a hundred lists. While these 17 songs are some of the most iconic, there are countless more waiting for you to listen to them!

Did we forget one of your favorite songs? Feel free to let us know which songs you think capture the essence of the Heart of Dixie best.

Photo of author
Written by Laura Macmillan
Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.