Downtown Music Lands One-Song Deal for Alabama's 'Dixieland Delight'
"Rollin' down a backwoods Tennessee byway/One song in the deal."
"Dixieland Delight," a 35-year-old title that Alabama made famous, is taking its rural imagery uptown: Downtown Music purchased it rights from songwriter Ronnie Rogers, the sole author, in a rare single-song deal.
The song's copyright, which at least two publishers had previously owned, had reverted to Rogers, who was not in a position to market it properly. Downtown, with its multiple offices and ongoing connections with synch licensees, expects to garner favorable placements and higher visibility by highlighting its attributes. The song has distinctly Southern lyrics, is heavily associated with 1980s country and came along during the commercial peak years of the multiplatinum Alabama. It has also become something of a fight song for the University of Alabama, played regularly at Crimson Tide home football games.
"It was a song that had a lot of love and passion around the walls of this office," says Downtown's New York-based senior vp business development Andrew Sparkler.
Sparkler's interest in "Dixieland" crystallized when a mutual friend brought up Rogers' name in conversation. His status as the sole writer made the song particularly attractive, since potential negotiations could be more easily streamlined. It immediately became an important Downtown asset.
"When a song like this is anywhere for a long period of time, it might get overlooked in favor of newer things or [by] the sheer volume of other copyrights," says Sparkler. "It might not get the love and attention it deserves. For us, it's one of the biggest country songs that we have in our catalog, so it's going to bubble up to the top."
Downtown has been active in Nashville of late, signing singer-songwriter John Prine, buying a substantial catalog from Major Bob Music and financing the release of Lucie Silvas' forthcoming album E.G.O. The company's energy made Rogers comfortable in making a deal that involves one of his treasured creations. "I researched their past, and they've got a lot of things going on to make future activities [likely]," he says. "It won't just lay around somewhere, where somebody purchases it, and that's the end of it. I felt good about that."
"Dixieland Delight" has earned several references in contemporary country songs, much like two other titles from its era: the 1979 single "Family Tradition" and the 1987 release "Fishin' in the Dark." Brad Paisley weaved "Dixieland" into the lyrics of his 2011 hit "Old Alabama," and Midland name-checked it in 2017's "Make a Little."