Jazz Standards.com : Jazz Standards : Songs : History : Biographies
Home Overview Songs Biographies History Theory Search Bookstore About

Stars Fell on Alabama (1934)

Share your comments on this tune...

Origin and Chart Information
Parish titled the song after an actual incident which occured in 1833 when a spectacular meteor shower dazzled the residents of the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama.

- Sandra Burlingame

Rank 238
Music Frank S. Perkins
Lyrics Mitchell Parish

“Stars Fell on Alabama” was the most famous song of composer Frank S. Perkins, who also composed for movies and conducted the orchestras, most notably for the 1962 film adaptation of Gypsy. Mitchell Parish, noted for his lyrics to “Stardust,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “Deep Purple,” “Moonlight Serenade,” and “One Morning in May,” titled this song after an actual incident. In November 1833, a spectacular meteor shower occurred near the Muscle Shoals area of Alabama. At 3 o’clock in the morning, as tens of thousands of meteors streaked across the sky, it was so bright that people thought the sun had risen and the roosters began to crow. The song was created in 1934, the same year that Professor Carl Carmer’s classic book about early Alabama culture was published with the same title. “Stars Fell on Alabama” was also added to the state’s license plates in 2002.


More on Mitchell Parish at JazzBiographies.com

More on Frank S. Perkins at JazzBiographies.com

The song charted twice in 1934. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians took it to the Billboard chart where it remained for nine weeks, four of them at number one. Richard Himber’s Orchestra had a number two hit with it. Although Himber billed himself as “The Sweet Stylist of the Dance,” his orchestra at various times included many musicians who would later come to fame in the jazz world such as Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Tommy Dorsey.


Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954

The song is very romantic, and the verse, set amidst “Moonlight and magnolias,” expresses disbelief that such a dream of love could come true. The refrain describes the love encounter:

We lived our little drama, we kissed in a field of white
And stars fell on Alabama that night.

Vocally “Stars Fell on Alabama” has been recorded by Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstrong, and pop singers the Four Aces and Jimmy Buffet. Both trombonist/vocalist Jack Teagarden and saxophonist Stan Getz recorded “Stars Fell on Alabama” several times, and it was waxed by pianists Erroll Garner and Jessica Williams, drummer Shelly Manne, and harmonica player Toots Thielemans. It was recorded recently by guitarist Frank Vignola (2000), saxophonist Harry Allen (2001), and bassist Phil Baker (2004).

More information on this tune...

Alec Wilder
American Popular Song: The Great Innovators, 1900-1950
Oxford University Press; Reprint edition
Hardcover: 576 pages

(Author/composer Wilder analyzes the music in his definitive book on American popular song.)

- Sandra Burlingame

Copyright 2005-2015 - JazzStandards.com - All Rights Reserved      Permission & contact information

Home | Overview | Songs | Biographies | History | Theory | Search | Bookstore | About