Take a Trip Through the States with Songs for Alabama—America’s Songbook

Every state across the country has its own type of music that makes it what it is. In a multi-part series, American Songwriter will take a look at each of the 50 states and the music that emanates from each of the various and unique landscapes.

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We start with: ALABAMA

Alabama—a land that is soundtracked by the fanfare of Friday night football games, the subtle symphony of the cicadas’ song, and a melody of “y’alls” and “yonders” – has been the subject of many a tune, birthed its fair share of hitmakers, and produced innumerable hits.

Making up America’s Songbook, here is a playlist of songs for Alabama about the state, by the statesmen, or recorded in the state.

“Angel from Montgomery” – John Prine

Make me an angel / That flies from Montgomery, goes the forlorn tune about a woman who wants more out of life and is looking for a way to escape.

For the song’s setting, famed singer-songwriter John Prine was drawn to the Alabama city of Montgomery as a longtime fan of country legend Hank Williams, whose body rests in a cemetery there. “Angel from Montgomery” has even become a concert staple of Holly Williams, a granddaughter of the icon.

“Tapestry from an Astroid” – Sun Ra

Experimental jazz composer, Sun Ra, was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama where he became known as the most devoted musician there at the start of his music career, rarely sleeping in order to work on his craft.

The prolific jazz innovator traveled the world, even claiming to have visited Saturn, but spent his last years composing, performing, and leading his Arkestra in his hometown.

“Wild Horses” – The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones recorded “Wild Horses” over a three-day period at the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama. The lyrics of the song are rumored to have been finished in the studio’s bathroom.

Over the years, the studio and its session musicians, known as The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, attracted a number of renowned artists like Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cher, Cat Stevens, and more.


“Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Hey, Good Looking’” – Hank Williams

“Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” – The Doors

“Nature Boy” – Nat King Cole

“Alabama” – Neil Young

“Wild Horses” – The Rolling Stones

“Tapestry from an Astroid” – Sun Ra

“Alabama Getaway” – Grateful Dead

“In the Midnight Hour” – Wilson Pickett

“Stars Fell On Alabama” – Billie Holiday

“Boulder to Birmingham” – Emmylou Harris

“Loves Me Like a Rock” – Paul Simon

“When a Man Loves a Woman” – Percy Sledge

“Song of the South” – Alabama

“Stay High” – Brittney Howard

“Night Moves” – Bob Seger

“Queen of the Silver Dollar” – Dr. Hook

“Angel from Montgomery” – John Prine

“Let’s Go Get Stoned” – Big Mama Thornton

“Stuck on You” – Lionel Richie

“Careless Whisper” – George Michael

“Alabama Pines” – Jason Isbell

“Alabama Bound” – Lead Belly

“Alabama Rain” – Jim Croce

“Stand By Your Man” – Tammy Wynette

“Birmingham Breakdown” – Duke Ellington

“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” – Bob Dylan

“Run On For A Long Time” – The Blind Boys of Alabama

“Puttin’ People On The Moon” – Drive-by Truckers

Stay tuned for the next installment of songs from Alaska

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