Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Alabama, “The Closer You Get”

“The Closer You Get”


Written by Mark Gray and J.P. Pennington

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

July 8, 1983


#1 (1 week)

July 16, 1983

“The Closer You Get” is such a distinctively Alabama song that it’s hard to believe that theirs was the fourth version released in three years.

Exile had recorded the song first, but it failed to make an impact, which was the same fate as the Rita Coolidge version.  Country artist Don King sent an acoustic-flavored version of the song to country radio, and it went top thirty in 1981.  

Alabama revamped the song to fit their aggressive southern pop rock sound.  The electric guitars do a lot of the heavy lifting here, with the rest of the work being done by their signature harmonies.  It follows the blueprint of their early eighties sound closely, though this time around, it’s not anchored in the southern euphemisms and references that kept even their least sonically country records grounded in the genre.

It’s catchy as all get out, and their confidence on record remains unabated.  Even Alabama filler from this era is still pretty darn good.

“The Closer You Get” gets a B+

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Maybe my love hate relationship with Alabama reaches its peak here? There are so many elements of this performance I don’t want to like on principle, yet it is anchored in my country music listening bones. Maybe its effect is more a sonic scar than anything else.

    How can a song be crunchy and slick at the same time? I felt this song was played twice every hour on KEEY K-102 as a kid. It was unavoidable an inescapable listening. Nostalgia can be a weird and unpredictable thing.

    Alabama will prove to be even more unpredictable with their output as their radio dominance reaches never before seen heights.

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