Here are some of SouthernAirs' choices for the best songs associated with Alabama, in no particular order. Maybe it's easier to see where you're going if you know where you've been, but these tunes are also not organized by any particular era. Maybe it's best to just dive in here anywhere and see where you end up. There have been more famous songs written about Alabama than any other state, according to some accounts.
ALABAMA BOUND, by Huddie Ledbetter, aka Lead Belly, blues musician from the 1930s-1940s who was prolific and influential in the history of the genre. His mastery of the 12-string guitar is fairly wondrous.
ALABAMA GETAWAY, Grateful Dead. Here is the studio version of the definitive jam band's take on the state. We don't know whether they are getting away TO Alabama, or getting away FROM Alabama, but maybe it's just the trip that counts.
ALABAMA PINES, Jason Isbell. Sometimes you can see both the forest and the trees. A formidable alt country talent who pushes the cross-over envelope, and a Drive By Truckers alum to boot. He's from Green Hill, Alabama, and probably proud of it.
SWEET HOME ALABAMA, Lynyrd Skynyrd. The enduring classic from the star-crossed talents who became a pillar of the Southern rock genre. When artists make great sacrifice for their talent, it's worth remembering.
STARS FELL ON ALABAMA, Billie Holiday. Everybody who was anybody covered this standard from the great jazz singer, musician and song writer. Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Patti Page are among the luminaries who recorded the song, but it still belongs to Billie.
BIRMINGHAM TONIGHT, Delbert McClinton. A honky-tonk favorite from a musician who is familiar with life on the road, and whose fine body of work spans the blues, rock, country genres -- and whatever else comes at him next.
THE THREE GREAT ALABAMA ICONS, Drive By Truckers. Existential musings from the rock-country group known for spending a lot of creative energy plumbing the Southern experience. Look for some rough and revealing insights here.
STUCK INSIDE OF MOBILE WITH THE MEMPHIS BLUES AGAIN, Bob Dylan. This song may not really be about Alabama. But then again, it might be.
SHOUT BAMALAMA, Otis Redding. An energetic shouter from the titan of soul.
BAMA BREEZE, Jimmy Buffett. Mood piece. Nostalgia drinking song about a bar where everybody would like to have a beer -- if they could just find the place.
John Morgan was an executive at Billboard Magazine's parent company for nine years, and notably led the launch of the magazine's Website, www.Billboard.com. He was also founding editor of the "This Day in Music Almanac," and created the BPI Entertainment News Wire. He has a special fondness for Southern music and other Southern art, from literature to crafts and photography.