"Sweet Home Alabama"
Neil Young News
Please comment and add your thoughts on Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama"
Part #1 - Detailed analysis of the "Southern Man"/"Alabama" by Neil Young vs. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd feud. .
"The 3 Alabama Icons" by Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers on Southern Rock Opera
Is Lynyrd Skynyrd's song "Sweet Home Alabama" a racist song? Some believe it is. Others do not believe so. Thrasher's Wheat reports, you decide.
The latest chapter in this long running argument over the song's lyrics has been extensively analyzed before in detail.
Lynyrd Skynyrd on Stage
The band performing in front of a giant Confederate flag has not helped Lynyrd Skynyrd shake the image of "racists rednecks". In a Glide Magazine article by Ross Warner:
The "stars and bars" that eventually began popping up in the band's crowds became more than embarrassing. It was bad enough to be portrayed as ignorant hayseeds. It was entirely another to be categorized as racist."
The fact that the song "Sweet Home Alabama" has been appropriated by extremist hate groups, such as the neo-Nazi white supremacist band Skrewdriver as a theme song is just one such example of how the song is associated with racism.
"Sweet Home Alabama"'s enduring popularity with conservatives (comprised primarily of the wealthy elite and poor whites in the rural south [SOURCE: bluntly framed as the quintessential redneck, NASCAR, Rush Limbaugh ditto-head stereotype]) is quite perplexing given the song's lyrics and meaning. The National Review Online's John J. Miller -- inexplicably and cluelessly -- recently listed it among "The 50 greatest conservative rock songs" and wrote that the song is "a tribute to the region of America that liberals love to loathe, taking a shot at Neil Young’s Canadian arrogance along the way: “A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”
The images of good ol' boys cruising around blasting "Sweet Home Alabama" simply reinforces the perception of the song, as well.
In February 2005, the controversy flared up again after the Grammy Awards 2005 Southern Rock Tribute when an all star line-up performed Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama".
A posting by The Chan Man on Daily Kos titled "Grammies Ode to Southern Red-State Rock Made Me Sick" resurrected the long running debate:
Watergate can easily be equated to the beliefs of George Wallace to the perceived malicious prosecution of slave masters.
The translation to the 2005 Grammy Awards should be clear to all. The problems of the late sixties are no longer relevant so shut up about them already. The idea is that we can enjoy a rendition of Georgia on My Mind and a rendition of Sweet Home Alabama without making political distinction. As we can see by all the black multimillionaires that racism must be long dead in this country; in essence, the sentiments contained in Sweet Home Alabama are as far removed from the Southern attitude as Ray Charles is from the state of Georgia.
But no matter how the director tried to spin it on camera, there was a distinct pleasure taken in the dissing of Neil Young on the stage tonight. A red-state man don't need liberals around any how. He needs tax cuts and a Republican in the White House.
If Rush Limbaugh and Michael Medved insist on straining the political meaning out of every piece of popular art that emerges from the entertainment industry, then they will certainly have a lot to talk about tomorrow. I have a funny feeling, however that their focus will be not on the lyrics for Sweet Home Alabama, but rather about the song American Idiot by the San Francisco band Green Day."
A followup posting by monkeymind on dailykos:
"Enthroning this song on national TV has offensive political undertones and overtones--celebrate a provincial culture characterized by bigotry at the expense of left wing counter culture. As a final insult, February happens to be Black History Month. Honoring this song was wrong for all kinds of reasons."
Of course, folks take issue with any knock on Skynard, Alabama, or anybody dissing the South. Like Miss Blue:
Give me a freakin break. Does everything have to become political? Sweet Home Alabama is a statement of pride - in THEIR HOME STATE. Christ. I don't give a crap what their history was, at the time Skynard wrote the song, he was defended the honor of HIS HOME. Just as I do about my state. And gee, we have McCarthy to cope with back in our past.
I thought the show was excellent, outstanding. There was NO Republican slant - if anything, it was strongly tilted to the liberal agenda. Let's see, we had Green Day's American Idiot prominently featured, and it won an award. We had an incredible tribute to Janis Joplin by Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge. And by damn, Melissa nailed it - sheer perfection. Several artists were sporting white Peace armbands. And U2 - does it get any more liberal than that? Name me one conservative group that was featured. You can't - there weren't any. Even the country artists - Tim McGraw (liberal Dem), Keith Urban (Australian), and Gretchen Wilson (featured with a very radical country group more often than not, that happens to have a black rapper as a member).
I'm a cowgirl, and country music is played at every event I go to with my horses. I have to cope with rednecks almost daily. Believe me, I recognize a Repub slant a million miles away. You are way off base here. Not all southerners are right wing, but even the liberals have a sense of pride in their hometowns. "
And so on. By desiunion:
"Growing up in west virginia, I do understand certain things about the sountern white mentality. I used to be for the confederate flag, because although to some it represented slavery, I think its meaning today represents the southern white culture in general, not necessarily that part dealing with slavery and racism. Just like african americans like the malcom X, the white southerners feel like their voices are being muzzled, and they use the flag as a representation of southern america. There are certain groups of white people in this country who are in really dire situations, and having some pride in themselves can motivate them to do better. That doesnt mean taking it too far, but as a person of color, I can conceed that the southern flag is not always a symbol of racism. I guess people can say that about the swastika, but then native americans can have objections to the american flag as well, so its complicated."
by frightwig on Sun Feb 13th, 2005 at 22:09:07 PST:
I think the Watergate line is a kind of "methinks thou dost protest too much" observation. You know, it's good to hold politicians accountable when they're in the wrong, but perhaps the furor over Watergate--as if Nixon invented political dirty tricks and corruption--may have been a sign of a guilty conscience. Would Nixon's critics feel the same outrage and call for impeachment if it had been a Democrat, I think he wonders.
I take the Neil Young verse as nothing more than a little "mind your own business, you got your own race troubles up North and out West." It's a valid point. Randy Newman made a similar observation about Northern hypocrisy on race issues in his song "Rednecks." It doesn't let the South off the hook because racism also exists elsewhere in the country, but I think it's fair for Lynyrd Skynyrd to wonder why he put it all on Southern Man rather than writing about the problems in his own backyard.
Anyway, it's a good song with a great guitar hook, and I can't imagine a "Southern Rock" tribute without it. It gets played on "Classic Rock" radio every day, throughout the country. There's nothing wrong with performing it at the Grammies. Lighten up."
At 3/2/2005 5:05 PM, Jon said about Grammy Awards 2005 Southern Rock Tribute:
At 3/22/2005 10:56 PM, Mike said about Grammy Awards 2005 Southern Rock Tribute:
Ruben Studdard on American Idol
So what's going on when the most popular American TV program has a black contestant singing a "supposedly" racist song by a Florida band about the Confederate state Alabama and a Canadian singer that is used as a commercial by a Kentucky corporation to sell fried chicken?
And the totally bizarre irony of a Kentucky based company using an Alabama song by a Florida based band for a TV commercial? KFC's Sweet Home Alabama Ads Ignore The Racist Backdrop of the Song, writes David Kiley in Business Week:
Clipping the refrain from "Sweet Home Alabama," using it to sell fried chicken nationally, and ignoring the meaning and intent of the song seems pretty stupid. But hey, that's just me."
Marc W. posted as a followup to Kiley's article:
And so on. And on...
I've always found this sort reaction to the song to be quite interesting. Apparently, lots of others find Lynyrd Skynyrd's song "Sweet Home Alabama" provocative.
Here's a poll on Neil and Lynyrd.
Detailed analysis of the "Southern Man"/"Alabama" by Neil Young vs. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd feud. .
Play and listen to a MP3 sample clip of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", Neil Young's "Alabama" and "Southern Man", Drive By Truckers' "Ronnie and Neil" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "The Ballad Of Curtis Lowe".
More Neil Young polls.
More on Drive By Truckers and Patterson Hood and search on Thrashers Blog.
Also, more on the Neil Young song "Powderfinger".
More on Neil & Lynyrd on HyperRust and Lynyrd Skynyrd on Wikipedia.
A writer sees Southern rock as refuge from racism in the book "Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race and New Beginnings in a New South" by Mark Kemp.
Also, see Taking Sides Debate: "Southern Man" by Neil Young vs. "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynrd Skynrd.
Also, more on Neil and Ronnie (Ronald Reagan that is).
More discussion of Neil Young's song "Alabama"
Also, the 2005 Grammy tribute to Southern Rock with Leonard Skinard and "Sweet Home Alabama".
Lynyrd Skynyrd Music and T-Shirts
Well I used to wake the morning before the rooster crowed
Searching for soda bottles to get myself some dough
Brought 'em down to the corner, down to the country store
Cash 'em in and give my money to a man named curtis loew
Old curt was a black man with white curly hair
When he had a fifth of wine he did not have a care
He used to own an old dobro, used to play it across his knee
I'd give old curt my money, he'd play all day for me
Play me a song curtis loew, curtis loew
I got your drinking money, tune up your dobro
People said he was useless, them people are the fools
'cause curtis loew was the finest picker to ever play the blues
He looked to be sixty, and maybe I was ten
Mama used to whip me but I'd go see him again
I'd clap my hands, stomp my feets, try to stay in time
He'd play me a song or two
Then take another drink of wine.
On the day old curtis died, nobody came to pray
Ol' preacher said some words, and they chunked him in the clay
But he lived a lifetime playin' the black man's blues
And on the day he lost his life, that's all he had to lose
Play me a song curtis loew, hey curtis loew
I wish that you was here so everyone would know
People said he was useless, them people all are fools
'cause curtis you're the finest picker to ever play the blues
Jammin' with Neil Young
Neil Young Blog - Musical Influences on Other Artists