“Sad Lookin’ Moon“
Written by Greg Fowler, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
May 9, 1997
Alabama nears the end of its legendary chart run.
The Road to No. 1
After “She Ain’t Your Ordinary Girl” went to No. 1, Alabama’s extraordinary consistency at country radio faltered. “In Pictures” went top ten, “It Works” went top twenty, and then “Say I” barely cracked the top forty. They bounced back with the final single from In Pictures, the top five “The Maker Said Take Her.” Alabama returned to the top with the lead single from one of their strongest albums, Dancin’ On the Boulevard.
The No. 1
“Sad Lookin’ Moon” is one of the least interesting tracks from a surprisingly diverse album, so of course it was the biggest radio single from the project.
The idea is sound enough, and Owen gives one of his better vocal performances. The band sounds so much more relaxed here, which gives “Sad Lookin’ Moon” a warmth that is missing from many of the formulaic radio hits that dominated the airwaves for two decades.
It’s just so lyrically clunky. “I thought that you could fly. I thought that you had wings,” rhymed with “It knocked me to the ground on my knees,” still makes me wince. To be fair, the second verse is much stronger, but I don’t know how that first verse made it out of the writers’ room.
I’d still rather listen to it than most of their mid-decade chart-toppers.
The Road From No. 1
Dancin’ On the Boulevard produced three more singles: the top five “Dancin’, Shaggin’ On the Boulevard,” and the top thirty entries “Of Course I’m Alright” and “She’s Got That Look in Her Eyes.” Perhaps to remind radio of their former glory days, their label put together For the Record, a collection of forty No. 1 hits. The lead single from that project will be covered when we get to 1998, and it will be the band’s final appearance here.
“Sad Lookin’ Moon” gets a B-.
Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties
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I love this song! For me, “Sad Lookin’ Moon” will always be the main song that takes me back to the Florida trip my mom, step dad, and I went on in the early Spring of 1997. That was actually the first time I ever heard it. I swear, we heard it on the radio in the rental car nearly EVERY day we were down there, and I really enjoyed hearing it every time. It especially reminds me of us spending time around the Orlando area and when we went to Disney World and Epcot for my 12th birthday. :) The station we mainly listened to down there was one called Frog Country, and it often featured funny frog croaking sounds before and in between songs (I remember one day hearing what sounded like a deep bullfrog croak before Tracy Byrd’s “Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got” came on, lol). Anyway, it was one of the most fun and memorable trips we ever went on, and “Sad Lookin’ Moon” was one of the main parts of the soundtrack to it. It always reminds me of suddenly being where the weather was warm, palm trees were everywhere, and nearly everyone was wearing shorts, despite it still being very early in the Spring. On the night we got back home, it was snow showers in the forecast with some light snow already coming down, lol (with Joe Diffie’s “This Is Your Brain” playing on the radio as we were almost at our house).
Shortly after we got back from the Florida trip, I found a cassette copy of Randy Travis’ Always and Forever in my dad’s house in Fredericksburg, VA which he let me have, and I copied it on to another blank tape. Of course, I wanted to fill out the rest of the side with songs from the radio, and much to my surprise and excitement, “Sad Lookin’ Moon” was the first one to come on. Other songs on the radio part of that side include “Don’t Take Her She’s All I Got” by Tracy Byrd, “One Way Ticket” by LeAnn Rimes, “Who’s Cheatin’ Who” by Alan Jackson, “Better Man, Better Off” by Tracy Lawrence, ” “A Girl’s Gotta Do (What A Girl’s Gotta Do)” by Mindy McCready, and just a little snippet of “Ease My Troubled Mind” by Ricochet at the end. And yes, this is the same tape I also mentioned in Alan’s “Who’s Cheatin’ Who.”
For me, “Sad Lookin’ Moon” still sounds just as fresh as it did when I first heard it in Florida in early ’97. Don Cook gave Alabama a much needed updated and more energetic sound, and they do sound reenergized here compared to some of their mid 90’s hits. I especially like how Randy Owen’s voice sounds here under the new production style. What always drew me to the song though was the extremely catchy melody and that really neat electric guitar hook. I also like how the lyrics always had me picturing Randy Owen standing out in a wide open area at night looking up at the moon and stars. This is overall a nice little slice of country rock, and for me, it’s another one of Alabama’s more underrated 90’s singles.
It’s too bad none of the singles from Dancin’ On The Boulevard went to number one. I especially also enjoy the title track, which always instantly takes me back to the Summer of 1997. I also really love early 1998’s “She’s Got That Look In Her Eyes,” which I consider to be one of their most underrated 90’s singles. I love its beautiful melody and the memories of 6th grade it brings back, along with hearing it on Chris Charles’ Weekly Country Countdown when it was new.
Jamie, I wish this song resonated with me the way it does so clearly with you, or even just triggered some positive associations. Alabama seemed to be perpetually lingering around the edges of what was happening with nineties country music without ever actually figuring out what made the decade so influential and intriguing. They always felt like they were chasing what was already gone.
I knew I was familiar with this song, but I had to listen to remind myself what it was all about, which isn’t much to my ears.