Every #1 Country Single of the Nineties: Alabama, “Jukebox in My Mind”

“Jukebox in My Mind”

Alabama

Written by Dave Gibson and Ronnie Rogers

Billboard

#1 (4 weeks)

September 8 – September 29, 1990

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

September 7 – September 14, 1990

Alabama enjoys its longest-running No. 1 hit.

The Road to No. 1

After four consecutive No. 1 singles from their Southern Star album, Alabama went top five with the title track from their next album, Pass it On Down.

The No. 1

Even more so than on the Eddie Rabbitt No. 1 earlier this year, Alabama’s “Jukebox in My Mind” demonstrates how far the pendulum had swung from country pop to the revival of traditionalism that was now dominating the charts.

It’s not that Alabama couldn’t do pure country.  They just weren’t usually associated with it.  Even their most fiddle-laden hits had more in common with Charlie Daniels southern rock than with George Jones traditional country.

But on “Jukebox in My Mind,” the boys of Alabama channel their inner Statler Brothers and go old-school, with their harmonies adorned with fiddle and steel that fit in perfectly with the records being made by Randy Travis and Alan Jackson at the time.

I love the framing of the record with the sound of the quarter dropping in the jukebox, as well as that sound of the needle hitting vinyl that would be used by everyone from Madonna to Miranda Lambert as the years went by.   It’s particularly clever that they essentially start the record all over again, sound effects and all, just when you think it’s over, as that perfectly complements the lyric about a memory that just won’t quit.

It’s a bit out of their wheelhouse, but they do this kind of country well.

The Road From No. 1

RCA would pull an additional three singles from Pass it On Down, and we will be seeing all of them in the near future.

“Jukebox in My Mind” gets an A.

 

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

Previous: Clint Black, “Nothing’s News” | Next: Garth Brooks, “Friends in Low Places”

 

10 Comments

  1. Alabama…shudder. As Rolling Stone Album Review so aptly said, “Music for the country dentist”.

  2. I don’t remember this song and only found it a few years ago which is shocking for someone with a playlist of every song released to country radio in the 90s no matter how high it charted! While I love the song , it just don’t feel like Alabama to me. Must not have had much recurrent play here in VA either since I listened to radio religiously through the 90s.

  3. My critical take on Alabama was tainted by “Country Music” magazine’s Patrick Carr and Michael Bane. I learned to beleive the band represented everything wrong with Nashville and mainstream country. I disliked them because I was supposed to dislike them as a country fan.

    Problem was, their run of 80’s hits were everywhere on country radio and I actually really liked “Song of the South” and “High Cotton” as they began to sound more traditionally country. They were getting hard to hate!

    Then this song came across my radio and I loved it. Might actually be my favourite Alabama song.

    The opening quarter drop was a great framing device and link to country’s past.

  4. This is probably one of Alabama’s most traditional sounding songs, and it’s also always been one of my favorites of theirs. As was the case with the last few songs in this feature, this one was also still a steady recurrent into early 1991, and it seemed that it remained so throughout the rest of the decade for our area. Again, it ended up on at least a few of my tapes, which will likely be the case with several of the upcoming entries. I particularly love their signature harmonies in the acapella parts in the beginning and end. Also always thought the featured “jukebox” sound effects and the “record” starting all over again was so cool!

    My introduction to Alabama was hearing “Mountain Music” on one of my parents old mix tapes and then hearing “Feels So Right” on another. My dad also owned a cassette copy of the Feels So Right album, which eventually became one of my all time favorite albums of theirs. Because my parents always liked them and their music being a constant presence throughout my childhood, I can’t help but like Alabama, even if not all of their songs are of high quality. I particularly think a lot of their 90’s stuff has become sadly underrated and/or forgotten. And no, I’m not a dentist, either. :)

    Peter Saros, I’ve also always noticed Country Music Magazine being tough on Alabama, in general. However, Bob Allen, one of the record reviewers who was apparently very hard on them during their 80’s heyday, seemed to warm up to them a lot more in the 90’s.

  5. I’m not sure I would regard this as Alabama channeling their inner Statler Brothers, but I do like this song and agree with the “A”

  6. Jaime, I am fully invested in hearing all your shares about your mixed cassettes and those of your parents. When and how we first experience music can hold more sway than the actual quality or merits of the songs, singers, production, etc.

    It was also great to hear you mention Bob Allen! Several of the staff writers came around on Alabama (and Sawyer Brown for that matter!).

    That magazine was as instrumental and influential in guiding my album purchases as anything else. Old crusty Rich Kienzle was my guy. Magazines were still so big for country music in the 90’s: Country Music, New Country, Country Weekly, Twang, No Depression, The Journal of Country Music, Music City News, Country Round-Up,…I am missing a bunch I know.

  7. Thanks, Peter. I really enjoy and always look forward to your comments, as well! :)

    I really miss when there were so many country music magazines available. Strangely enough, as much as I loved country music then, I wasn’t yet into collecting magazines in the 90’s and only bought a few throughout that decade and the early 00’s. I always really enjoyed reading the issues of Country Music I did have though, especially the record reviews! About 5-6 years ago I started building up a collection of vintage CM magazines from Ebay, mostly ones from the 90’s and 80’s. I also really like Music City News and Country America. Flipping through those vintage magazines has definitely educated me even more on 90’s/80’s country, and it’s so cool seeing what all these artists were up to back in the day, plus finding out who were the critics favorites and who was not.

  8. …i particularly enjoy the dropping of the next coin at the end of the song hinting at the wealth of memories still left with the protagonist. hitting at alabama seems kinda easy for critics – but then, there are the numbers…

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