song ‘I Hate Alabama’ about lost love, not just Crimson Tide | Sports



TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (AP) – As with any social media post, click on the headline before judging the “I Hate Alabama” story.

Although locked in a chorus of anti-Bama fervor, Conner Smith’s single actually plays out as a backhand compliment to the heavy football phenomenon in Alabama, especially during its ongoing Nick Saban dynasty.

Basically it’s a lost love song, about an ex-girlfriend who scampered away in Tuscaloosa: “So you had to go and break my heart / in a fraternity house yard covered in beer cans . ” When the singer dwells on the pain, he sees crimson, both literally and figuratively.

But that doesn’t help the evil that “Since 2006 / They’ve got us every season.” Bama football has won 14 straight wins over Smith’s University of Tennessee Volunteers.

“I’ll be saying ‘Roll Tide’ all day long,” said Smith, the 21-year-old country ballad star that burns on TikTok and elsewhere, with clips added showing the Crimson Tide wiping out opponents.

Then came Texas A&M, and the 41-38 slugfest that cut UA’s 100-game winning streak against unranked opponents.

Make no mistake, the Chattanooga-born, Nashville-raised singer-songwriter bleeds pure orange. But the University of Alabama has been very kind to him, in a somewhat ironic way.

“The moment of the loss in Alabama (Saturday October 9) was really crazy. It really rocked the song, ”Smith said. “It was cool to see him have his little moment.”

Speaking by phone from his Nashville home on Tuesday morning, Smith noted that he was preparing for a concert in Birmingham that evening, where he would play the single, of course, possibly followed by “Sweet Home Alabama”.

There is a double meaning to this, as not only is “Sweet Home Alabama” a song that many UA fans claim as their anthem, but “I Hate Alabama” also references it as a focal point for the. angst: “And I love Lynyrd Skynyrd / But Lord I hate ‘Sweet Home’ / ‘Because when I hear it all I see / is a girl with a houndstooth.


The song is catchy, said Paul Finebaum, a longtime writer, commentator and host for ESPN’s SEC network, but likely won’t land a Grammy.

“It’s cute,” he said. “As someone who has performed with music in my life, I’m all for any song that gets noticed.”

Smith’s work drew some heat on Finebaum’s appeal radio show, but mostly Bama fans didn’t notice or care, he said. he declares.

“Alabama fans don’t really care about anyone else anymore,” Finebaum said with a laugh, which he says is a byproduct of success. “A rival is someone you wake up to hate every day. Alabama doesn’t care about others.

“I think in many ways Alabama is judged against perfection, and everyone is judged against Alabama.”

Breaking up theme aside, “I Hate Alabama” actually underscores AU dominance under Saban: 170 wins vs. 24 losses, 19 bowl appearances with 14 wins, eight SEC West titles, seven SEC championships and six national championships.

Hatred is a sure sign of passion. The opposite of hate is not love, but apathy.

“I love when someone walks up to me and says ‘I hate you.’ “Good,” Finebaum said.

In the mid-90s, Finebaum wrote a book called “I Hate Alabama: 303 Reasons Why You Should Too”, following on from a similar book filled with gags on Auburn. These sold so well for Crane Hill Press that it finished 54 more, on Notre Dame, Clemson and other university centers.

“The jokes were terrible,” said Finebaum, following a pattern, with about 50% of the same jokes appearing in every book. “Then I would pick 10 sports writers and sports commentators in each market, so they would come after me and write an article. “

Why 303?

“I have no earthly idea,” Finebaum said with a laugh, noting that the concept had evolved 25 years ago. But there is clearly a market for football-based hatred.

“I came to Alabama at the end of (Bear) Bryant,” in 1980, when he joined the Birmingham Post-Herald as a columnist and reporter. “Even when Bama had The Three Mikes, it didn’t matter. People still hated them.

(“The Three Mikes” refers to a jagged Crimson Tide era encompassing head coaches Mike DuBose, Mike Price – hired in 2002, but fired before coaching a single game – and Mike Shula, struggling to get the program back on track. the rails, hoping to return to the glory years a la Bear. Dennis Franchione, who only played two seasons between Price and Shula, does not follow.)

Aside from the “Sweet Home Alabama” connection, Alabama and its fans punctuate Tide’s name in songs, no matter the framing or intent. Steely Dan’s 1976 “Deacon Blues” is played at Bryant-Denny Stadium for his refrain: “They’ve got a name for the winners of the world / I want a name when I lose / They call Alabama the Crimson Tide / Call it out me Deacon Blues. “

Finebaum has spent years chasing co-composers Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, trying to get them on his show to discuss the song’s origins. Fagen recounted variations, including being inspired by football player Deacon Jones, and much like “I hate Alabama,” was intended both as a tribute and a smirk at the ubiquitous presence of ‘UA.

Only time will tell if “I Hate Alabama” will earn a place of honor on the Bryant-Denny PA, with “Sweet Home Alabama”, “The Tide is High” by Blondie and “Dixieland Delight” by the Alabama group, but who know?

“It could create a whole cottage industry of hating Alabama songs,” Finebaum said.


Much like in 2017, when actress Sally Field was quoted making derogatory remarks about Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports prepared a friendly response to Smith, posting it on her Instagram account. It reads:

“Hi Conner! Team Visit Tuscaloosa here. Broken hearts suck, but we’re so happy to see yours found new beautiful beauty in Alabama. Next time you’re around let us know. We would love to offer you this next beer.

“We understand that a trip to T-town might be preferable outside of football season given the past (and because of our championship football team, of course). In that case, you might even come across a little less crimson and houndstooth vests. However, we can’t promise that you won’t hear your beloved Sweet Home or “Roll Tide” chants – it’s pretty much evident all the time here.

“But, if you give Tuscaloosa another chance, you will learn that there is so much that our small community has to offer! Whether you are a foodie, history buff, outdoors enthusiast or music and art fan (hint, hint), we believe it is very possible to fall in love with Tuscaloosa again… and maybe even from ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ ?!

“Come as you are, even with that Braves hat.” We promise to always welcome you here. #cals #visitTCL #nextbeerisonus. “

Alabama will face Tennessee at 6 p.m. on Oct. 23 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, for their home game.


Smith noted that a number of reporters got the song wrong, that it is not really disrespectful to Tuscaloosa or UA.

“I think we were very concerned to make sure of that,” he said. “If this song had only been about football, we would never have recorded it. This is useless; it’s just ridiculous. In a way, avoiding an entire state, or an entire city, is not our goal at all.

“It’s a love song, it’s a heartbreaking song, and it’s just kind of college-centric.”

Smith has been writing songs since the age of 6 and signed with Big Machine Records right out of high school. But he didn’t write “I Hate Alabama:” It was actually the first song Smith recorded that he didn’t compose. Co-written by Hunter Phelps, Nick Columbia, Drew Green and Lee Starr, “I Hate Alabama” was introduced to Smith by his friend Phelps, knowing his love for Tennessee football.

“We all panicked,” Smith said. “It really was a rough diamond. We thought this song could be really, really special.

“I think the magic of that song is that at the end of the day it’s a compliment to Alabama… Then you realize it’s not about football at all. As a songwriter, it’s a perfect hook.

It was a rather discreet cut, with his group at their producer. Older brother Cooper Smith filmed a video in their parents’ barn. Big Machine CEO and Chairman Scott Borchetta personally called Smith to talk about the progress of the release date.

“It was out eight days after we posted the video, which is really unheard of,” Smith said, noting that a label’s machine wheels generally turned more deliberately. “And then Bama loses the next day, who has just thrown gasoline on the fire.”

He received burns within the Bama Nation, but also love, from those who look beyond the obvious and see Tide’s tribute within. Smith’s touring schedule will take him to many towns in the SEC where fans could scream with the chorus, he said. And they will return to Birmingham on December 10, to Zydeco, but so far there is nothing reserved for Druid City.

“If I get to Tuscaloosa, I’m just going to change the words to ‘I love Alabama’,” he said with a laugh.

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