Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Alabama, “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”

“Can’t Keep a Good Man Down”


Written by Bob Corbin

Radio & Records

#1 (2 weeks)

October 11 – October 18, 1985


#1 (1 week)

November 9, 1985

This is a really good song that’s kept down by a repetitive chorus. 

“Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” showcases Randy Owen’s continued growth as a vocalist, with his idiosyncratic phrasing in the verses.  It also gives him a great lyric to work with in the verses, garnering our sympathy for his broken heart and getting us to cheer on his optimistic view that things will get better.

It’s a great feat of emoting and storytelling during those verses, but songwriter Bob Corbin either ran out of ideas when he got to the chorus, or he thought it was a requirement to have a singalong hook on an Alabama hit.  It doesn’t work, despite Owen giving it a valiant effort, because the hook isn’t strong enough to carry the title being repeated to death. 

I think that the tension between the expectation of maintaining superstar-level album sales and wanting to grow artistically is evident on this hit, and it will remain part of the Alabama story for the rest of their run at radio, as was pretty well documented already in our series of No. 1 hits from the nineties.

They go all in on artistic growth with their next No. 1 hit, so that tension will pay off a few times before the decade is through.

“Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” gets a B.  

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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1 Comment

  1. Up or down, I am already tired of Alabama at this point.

    I just never connected with them as deeply as I did with so many other artists from this decade.

    They need to crush a performance for me to even notice, and they certainly qdon’t do that here.

    This hit single is just another sleeper as we go around the world on Alabama’s yo-yo ride through country music history.

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