"Sweet Home Alabama" Should It Be Our State Song?

April Killian

Should Alabama''s state song officially be changed to "Sweet Home Alabama" by legendary southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd? Read along to find out more about our current state song - then let me know in the comments what you think!

Our Current State Song
Written as a poem and adapted to music in 1931, our current state anthem, "Alabama," was written by Julia Tutwiler - um, yeah, the same lady for which our only maximum security state women's prison was named. But don't hold that against Mrs. Tutwiler. She wasn't a proponent for locking women up as much as she was a staunch proponent of prison reform and improvement. Prior to the unyielding commitment of Mrs. Tutwiler, there were no separate housings for male and female inmates and juvenile offenders were often locked up with adult hardened criminals - not good. So, Mrs. Tutwiler pushed and prodded and didn't stop until she had made conditions for prisoners in Alabama much more bearable. Besides helping female and juvenile offenders, her efforts also brought improved sanitation along with educational and religious opportunities to inmates. Because of her actions, Mrs. Tutwiler was known as "the angel of the prisons" in her day.

Now, back to the state song. Let's just say that I'm fairly certain that no one ever in the history of hearing our state anthem has ever said "It's catchy, got a great beat, and you can dance to it." It may have been a nice choice for a state song back in the day - but that was 91 years ago in 1931. Here are the full lyrics:

Alabama, Alabama, We will aye be true to thee,
From thy Southern shores where groweth,
By the sea thine orange tree.
To thy Northern vale where floweth,
Deep and blue the Tennessee,
Alabama, Alabama, We will aye be true to thee!
Broad thy stream whose name thou bearest;
Grand thy Bigbee rolls along;
Fair thy Coosa-Tallapoosa
Bold thy Warrior, dark and strong,
Goodlier than the land that Moses
Climbed lone Nebo's Mount to see,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
From thy prairies, broad and fertile,
Where thy snow-white cotton shines.
To the hills where coal and iron,
Hide in thy exhaustless mines,
Strong-armed miners -sturdy farmers;
Loyal hearts what'er we be,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
From thy quarries where the marble
White as that of Paros gleams
Waiting till thy sculptor's chisel,
Wake to life thy poet's dreams;
Fear not only wealth of nature,
Wealth of mind hast thou no fee,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
Where the perfumed south-wind whispers,
Thy magnolia groves among,
Softer than a mother's kisses,
Sweeter than a mother's song,
Where the golden jasmine trailing,
Woos the treasure-laden bee,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
Brave and pure thy men and women,
Better this than corn and wine
Make us worthy, God in Heaven
Of this goodly land of Thine.
Hearts as open as thy doorways.
Liberal hands and spirits free.
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!
Little, little can I give thee,
Alabama, mother mine.
But that little - hand, brain, spirit.
All I have and am are thine.
Take, O take, the gift and giver.
Take and serve thyself with me.
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!

Honestly, I haven't heard our state song since my high school trip to Allstate Chorus in 1983. Where, incidentally, I was Outstanding Female Choral Student of Alabama (hey, got to toot my own horn since all I got was a trophy that's been collecting dust for 40 years). I recall that most of us on that trip giggled over the old fashioned flowery lyrics and stern hymn-like melody. The melody was written by an organist and choirmaster, after all: Mrs. Edna Gockel Gussen from Birmingham, Alabama, also in 1931. Maybe just a tad bit dated?

Can We Afford "Sweet Home Alabama" As A State Song?
Over the past couple of decades, I've seen efforts to make "Sweet Home Alabama" our state song. I've seen several petitions and a few social media posts that went viral then fizzled out. Using a modern copywrited song can't be done for free, however. The writer and publisher have to give permission which involves licensing the song for a set price. A few years ago, "Sweet Home Alabama" was licensed to be used in advertisements and roadsigns for a term of five years by the Alabama State Board of Tourism to the tune of $75,000. That's actually not too bad a price tag considering that song licensing for national commercials can run in the millions of dollars. Whether the song could even be licensed for use as a state song and whether we could afford it is best left up to lawyers and publishers.

Turn It Up
So, maybe it's time to keep the spirit of reform that Mrs. Julia Tutwiler brought to the state and give Alabama a positive boost with a new state song - if it's at all possible. Her achievements will still be remembered - but Alabama needs an update....and who doesn't love the song "Sweet Home Alabama?" What do you think? Leave your vote for yes or no in the comment section!

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April Killian is a native of Florence, Alabama and writes about her home state of Alabama and the Shoals area. She is the mom of many pets and 3 adult children. Along with writing, she sells vintage items online and conducts estate sales in her area. She is a lifelong supporter of charity work, loves life, and tries to be a positive force in this world in everything she does! Her writing passions include: family and social issues, nature, humor, the paranormal and anything interesting or weird! Click on "follow" to see more of her articles in the future! https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Aprilkillian

Florence, AL
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