ALABAMA GODDAMN: A COMPILATION OF SONGS ABOUT BIRMINGHAM AND ALABAMA
For some time now, I’ve collected songs about Birmingham, and, Alabama in general. It’s unbelievable how many amazing 78s were recorded between 1920-1935 that reference Birmingham either in lyric or title, or very often, both (conveniently "Alabam" and "Birmngham" rhyme, and that's a fact often taken advantage of in many of these ditties). Obviously, I couldn’t include a tenth of the songs that wax poetic about the Heart of Dixie or, for that matter, the Magic City itself, but, unequivocally, the songs on this compilation are some of my personal favorites.
Many here are obvious and well known, and a few are somewhat rare. I should state that there is also a myriad of phenomenal field recordings captured by musicologists / documentarians which were made between 1920-1950 or so. I didn’t include any of those because I thought that, for the uninitiated, the harsh, scratchy recordings might be hard to bear, but there are indeed so many of these absolutely brilliant performances from people who very likely never even heard the recordings they made. Also, even up to recently, everyone from Huey Lewis to Ani Defranco to the Drive-By Truckers has written entire songs about or at least referenced Birmingham. I avoided those, because I simply don’t like them or, as is the case with the Truckers and others, thought absolutely everybody has heard them by now.
I am proud of my Alabama heritage and am constantly amazed at the degree to which I have been shaped by my childhood here, my long exodus, and my eventual return. That said, I do have a love / hate relationship with Alabama, and you will find the authors of these songs, probably for both similar and distinctly singular reasons, seem to grapple with this as well.
Some of these tunes are silly and about the rather swingin’ or wildly rambunctious South, some are deeply sad and remarkably capture the strife of slavery and the struggle of the Civil Rights movement, and many are just about passing through on the way to some place else, and likewise, in the greater scheme of life, I am glad that I, for better or worse, have “passed” through this place myself.
I do hope you enjoy this comp. and will begin (or continue) your own hunt for gems in the ruff of Alabama music history. Thanks for checking them out.