Stars Fell on Alabama
The title of the song appears to have been borrowed from the title of the 1934 book of the same name by Carl Carmer. It refers to a spectacular occurrence of the Leonid meteor shower that had been observed in Alabama in November 1833, "the night the stars fell." As reported by the Florence Gazette: "[There were] thousands of luminous bodies shooting across the firmament in every direction. There was little wind and not a trace of clouds, and the meteors succeeded each other in quick succession."
One of the earliest recordings of "Stars Fell on Alabama" was by the Guy Lombardo Orchestra; Guy Lombardo's brother Carmen performed the vocals. Recorded on August 27, 1934, it was issued by Decca Records as catalog number 104.
The song has been recorded by over 100 artists. Among them are: Al Bowlly, Bing Crosby (for his 1975 album A Southern Memoir), Lee Wiley, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong; Cannonball Adderley with John Coltrane; Jack Teagarden; Jimmy Buffett; Billie Holiday; Anita O'Day; Dean Martin; Kay Starr; Frank Sinatra; Doris Day; Frankie Laine; Art Tatum; Erroll Garner; Don Rondo; Kate Smith; Mel Torme; Mina; Renee Olstead; Ricky Nelson; Stan Getz; Ben Webster; Vera Lynn; Tara Nevins; the Radcliffe Pitches; Ralph Marterie; Harry Connick Jr.; Sonny Stitt; Lizz Wright.
The Marching Southerners of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, perform an arrangement of the tune by previous band director John T. Finley at every home football game and exhibition. The song has become the unofficial anthem of both the Southerners and Jacksonville State University.
In January 2002, the phrase "Stars Fell on Alabama" was added to Alabama's license plates, and the traditional "Heart of Dixie" slogan was reduced to a smaller size. This design was replaced in early 2009 by another, which depicts the Gulf Coast of Alabama and reads "Sweet Home Alabama".
The song, as performed by Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong was used in the soundtrack of the 2007 film "Constellation," juxtaposing the nostalgic lyrics against the horror of racial violence the movie's protagonist recalls from his childhood.
The song, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong also featured in the 2021 movie 'Outside the Wire'.
- Nichols, Lewis (September 27, 1964). "In and Out of Books". The New York Times.
- "1833 meteor shower prompted 'Stars Fell on Alabama' song". South Alabamian. November 13, 2008. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
- Code of Alabama: Section 32-6-54 (1951) and 32-6-54.1 (1997). The amendment removes the requirement for special-purpose plates.
- Hall, John (Winter 2000). "The Night the Stars Fell". Alabama Heritage Magazine (55).