Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties: Alabama, “How Do You Fall in Love”

“How Do You Fall in Love”

Alabama

Written by Greg Fowler, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

October 23, 1998

Alabama’s final No. 1 single of the decade closes out an amazing radio run.

The Road to No. 1

Dancin’ On the Boulevard was the best reviewed Alabama album in years, and it did respectfully enough at radio, with one No. 1 single and an additional top five hit.  The band’s label took a novel approach to their next release. Rather than compile a Greatest Hits Vol. 4, they did a full career retrospective: For the Record – 41 Number One Hits. The 2-CD set included all of the band’s singles that had topped an industry chart.  The lead single from the project lived up to its predecessors, becoming Alabama’s final solo No. 1 hit to date.

The No. 1

There is absolutely nothing wrong with “How Do You Fall in Love.”

Randy Owen is in fine voice, delivering a tender lyric about the importance of continuing to search for love until you find it, and not taking it for granted once you do.

It’s textbook Alabama, and it’s not quite as dreary as some of their other chart-topping ballads of the decade.  But it doesn’t really stand out, either.  It could’ve been one of their No. 1 singles from the eighties or nineties.  Remarkable consistency?  Reliable redundancy? A little bit of both, really.

Their twenty year run at country radio was incredibly impressive, even if the music itself was only intermittently memorable.

The Road From No. 1

The second single from 41 Number One Hits was “Keepin’ Up,” which went top fifteen.  The collection went 5x platinum, their first to do so since their first Greatest Hits collection, though the 2-disc nature of 41 Number One Hits reflects 2.5 million in sales, not the 5 million achieved by their original single disc hits package. Their final album of the nineties, Twentieth Century, featured the top five hit “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You.” This *NSYNCcover featured harmonies by the boy band.  The album also included the top thirty hit “Small Stuff.”  The album went gold, and was the first studio album of their career to fall short of platinum sales.

Their 2001 album, When it All Goes South, featured the top fifteen title track.  It fell short of gold status, and would be their last country studio album for fourteen years.  However, we will see the band again when we get to the 2010s, as they earn two more No. 1 hits through collaborations with other artists.

“How Do You Fall in Love” gets a B.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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4 Comments

  1. I absolutely adore this song, and if Alabama’s number one days had to come to an end, I’m glad this was the final chart topper for them.

    This song is simply beautiful in just about every way for me. The lullaby like melody is gorgeous, and it’s the kind that I love having stuck in my head all day. This wisdom in the lyrics are also seemingly tailor made for Randy Owen’s more mature and older sounding voice by this time, and he sings them with the sincerity of someone who’s lived long enough to know when you’ve truly fallen in love and how to keep that love going for many years with its ups and downs. I just love his warm and tender performance of the entire song! It’s almost like hearing a father explain to his kid about love and relationships after his son or daughter has asked him about what it’s really like to fall in love. I also really like the metaphors used to describe the highs and lows of a relationship and how to keep it alive, like “It takes sun and water, so give it what it needs,” and “Seasons may come and go, and sometimes it rains and snows.”

    I also really love it when the signature harmonies of the band kick in about halfway through the record. I especially love how the harmonies sound when the line, “Seasons may come and go, and sometimes it rains and snows,” is repeated later in the song and at the very end when they all sing ” …so only you…will…knooow.” It just sounds heavenly to my ears! The strings throughout are also a very nice touch and really add to it. For me this is another great example of even Don Cook’s production becoming more mellow, smooth, and sophisticated by the late 90’s.

    Although this song came out in August when my parents and I were in California, I actually don’t remember hearing it during that trip, at all. “How Do You Fall In Love” reminds me much more of the Fall of 1998, and the early months of my 7th grade year. I especially remember hearing it on many cool, cloudy, and gloomy afternoons after my dad had picked me up from school and we were either going somewhere to eat or heading back home. During those times, it seemed like it always happened to be on the radio while Dad and I were in the car together after school. I particularly remember it playing on the radio during a cold and rainy afternoon just when we were leaving the KFC where we had dinner. I remember thinking that the mellowness of the song and its beautiful melody really matched the weather of that day and the other days I’d heard it. It was just simply a perfect song for the Fall, especially with the “Sometimes it rains and snows” line.

    Also by this time, hearing something new from Alabama was like hearing from an old friend that we’d known for a long time. I’d love them ever since I was little, and Dad was an Alabama fan since the early 80’s (He owned both Feels So Right and their first Greatest Hits album on cassette). And beautiful, mature songs like this made hearing from that old friend all the much more pleasant. :) I remember Dad enjoying this song whenever it was on the radio, as well.

    “How Do You Fall In Love” was another song that didn’t get too much recurrent airplay for us afterwards, but when I did hear it again, it was always such a pleasant surprise. Another great memory that this song brings back for me is during my Chorus class in my freshman year in high school in late 2000. Chorus was one of my most favorite classes for me that year, and one morning the whole class was on a bus for a concert we had to do at another school around the mountain areas near West Virginia. On that cold morning while we were all on the bus, still parked just outside our school, I pulled out my portable radio I brought with me and decided to see what was playing on one of the local country stations. Much to my surprise and delight, “How Do You Fall In Love” was playing. Even then, it had been so long since I’d heard it, and it brought back great memories. The song also sounded great on that cold and grey morning while on the bus, and there was just something very comforting about it at that moment. While that year was kind of rough for me in other classes, Chorus was always one of my happiest times during that year, and here I was, listening to a nearly forgotten tune that I always loved, and it was bringing back great memories as we were about to go on a nice little adventure on our way to a concert. :) That trip to the mountains in the northern part of Virginia near West Virginia also ended up being one of the most fun times I ever had during my high school years, and it let me see such a beautiful and interesting part of the state that I never got to see up until then. :)

    Unfortunately by 2003/2004, “How Do You Fall In Love” was yet another in a long line of wonderful late 90’s country songs that hardly ever got played on the radio again. Even during the brief time my dad had Sirius put in his car around 2004-2005, I don’t recall ever hearing it. By that time, the only Alabama hits you mostly heard on the radio were the usual popular (and tired) recurrents of their 80’s songs like “Mountain Music,” “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas,” “Roll On,” and “Song Of The South.” The only 90’s song of theirs that still got any good amount of recurrent airplay by the mid 00’s was “I’m In A Hurry” and maybe “Born Country” once in a while. I always wished they would occasionally thrown in this song, plus other “lost” favorites from the late 90’s like “Sad Lookin’ Moon” and “Dancin’ On The Boulevard.”

    I really love the music video for “How Do You Fall In Love,” as well, and the rainy scenes were such a nice touch and they fit my own memories of hearing the song very well. It still looks pretty modern today too, except for the fax machine shown later.

    I also personally really love the following single, “Keepin’ Up,” which is another one that brings back great memories from 7th grade. I remember hearing it for the first time on the radio of our new Chevy Malibu as I got in the car one afternoon when my step dad picked me up from school this time. As I closed the car door, the radio suddenly got a bit louder, which startled him. He thought it might’ve been a little glitch in the radio’s SCV feature, which made the volume of the radio go higher the faster you drove the car. I was enjoying and paying too much attention to the song to really notice it that much. I instantly had recognized it as another new Alabama song, and I was already loving its bright, catchy melody and breezy feel. I was also still thinking of my art class during that time, which was 7th period for me and my final class of the day. “Keepin’ Up” is a song I would continue to really love hearing on the radio going into the Spring of 1999. Sure, it’s pretty much the same theme as “I’m In A Hurry,” but I still love it anyway. :)

  2. I just remembered that during the Fall of 1998, we would also hear this song on the radio of the new Malibu when my mom, step dad, and I would sometimes go to Fredericksburg, VA on Sundays, which were usually cool, cloudy, and/or rainy, as well. I remember having it stuck in my head while wandering around the Spotsylvania Mall, back when our meeting spot was always at the Montgomery Ward’s. Sometimes my step dad (who also liked Alabama) liked singing along to this song when it was on the radio, too, especially on the very last “So only you will know..” at the end featuring the lovely harmonies. Hearing this song during the times we went to Fredericksburg in late 1998 was pretty neat and almost like coming full circle, since a lot of Alabama’s early 90’s music also reminds me of the times I spent in Fredericksburg during my early childhood. :)

  3. Even with heartfelt performances like this, Alabama increasingly felt like they playing on a free state fair bandshell while the rest of country music world was in the spotlight on the grandstand. This is the sound of the band that led the way through the eighties and early nineties being left behind.

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