This day in in 1983, Alabama hit #1 with “The Closer You Get.”
“The Closer You Get” was written in 1980 by J.P. Pennington and Mark Gray, members of Exile. However, the song was not immediately recorded by Alabama. Two earlier versions were released as singles – the first by Exile (which failed to gain much attention) and singer Don King, whose version reached No. 27 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in October 1981. In addition, Rita Coolidge recorded the song for her 1981 album, Heartbreak Radio, and released her version as a single.
Alabama’s version differed substantially from King’s acoustic version. According to country music writer Tom Roland, the song featured “distorted guitars, a more elaborate arrangement and an altered vocal sound.”
The end result was Alabama’s 10th No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. In addition, “The Closer You Get” registered enough airplay on Top 40 radio stations to peak at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A music video was filmed for the song, and has aired on CMT and Great American Country.