On This Date: Alabama Released Their First US Country #1 Hit “Tennessee River” In 1980

Alabama band country music
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Alabama has put out a ton of hits in their storied band’s tenure, but this one officially gave them their first #1 single and arguably made them a household name.

“Tennessee River” was released on May 16, 1980 as the third single from their 1980 album My Home’s In Alabama and was written by Randy Owen, who is the lead singer of the band.

Upon its release, the song’s smooth rhythm and powerful solo and group singing sent it rocketing up in popularity, eventually landing at the #1 spot on the U.S. Country Charts.

It was also the first time the group released a single with RCA Nashville, of which they signed with in March of 1980.

“Tennessee River” started Alabama on quite the streak of #1 hits. The song marked the first of their songs to reach the highest spot on the chart, and led into Alabama’s 21 consecutive #1 singles in as many releases. The impressive run lasted from 1980 all the way to 1987.

The song tells many different stories throughout its verses, such as regretting moving away from the expansive Tennessee river, expressing gratitude for all the good times the body of water has given them, and announcing a desire to eventually settle down near the river’s shores.

The lyrics in the first portion of the song read:

“I was born across the river
In the mountains where I call home
Lord, times were good there
Don’t know why I ever roamed

Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We get together anytime we can
Oh, Tennessee River and a mountain man,
We play together in Mother Nature’s band”

The lyrics are great within the song, but the strong suit of the Alabama classic has to be the strong vocals from Owen and company, especially when it gets to the chorus.

The instrumental portions deserve credit as well, with an incredible fiddle solo and the signature southern rock influenced guitar that really create an urge to “toe tap,” even if you aren’t trying to.

They just don’t make music like this anymore:

If you just can’t get enough of the band Alabama, they just so happen to still be touring over 50 years after they formed in 1969.

Until you go see them, just put “Tennessee River” on repeat.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock