Friday, July 12, 2013

Song Meaning & Analysis: Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd

ARTIST: Lynyrd Skynyrd | ALBUM: Second Helping | RELEASED: 1974
Lynyrd Skynyrd is known for popularizing southern rock. What is southern rock music, you might ask? Well, it's just a sub-genre of rock music with a little more emphasis on the southern culture of the United States. Themes of a typical southern rock song include condoning slavery and segregation, use of the confederate flag, condescending upon Black people, and the general backward-thinking mentality. These themes may not be explicitly stated in new songs, but they were very apparent when the genre was at its peak in the 1970s. Lynyrd Skynyrd, too, rose to fame in the mid 1970s with their debut album, Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd.

"Sweet Home Alabama" is considered by many to be the best song off of their second album, Second Helping. I, on the other hand, believe it's got a nice guitar solo, but lyrically, the song is garbage. I mean, when you read the lyrics you'll probably be wondering to yourself if it was written by a 10 year racist who's dying to get his racism out of his chest.

The motivation behind lyrics was a response to Neil Young who wrote "Alabama" and "Southern Man." Both of these songs CORRECTLY explore the South's racism toward Black Americans. Neil Young may be Canadian but he sure knows a thing or two about the South. Nevertheless, this didn't sit well with the White boys of Lynyrd Skynyrd. So they wrote this silly song, which many musicians considered to be pretty good. If you think this stuff is good, you have drunk the Koolade, my friend. "We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two," said Ronnie Van Zant, the lead singer in response to mild criticism of the song.
If you closely look at this dumb song, you'll understand how desperately the band is trying to defend the South, and racism in general:

In Birmingham they love the governor(Boo! Boo! Boo!)17 - This is a reference to Governor George Wallace, who opposed civil rights movement and integration of Black and White communities in the state of Alabama. Obviously the band was called out on this. Van Zant's response this criticism was, "The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn't notice the words 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor." But what his hillbilly dude doesn't realize is that at the end of the song, the same mouth sings, "the governor's true."43 So what does that suppose to mean? Sounds me like a classic Republican flip-flop.

Now Watergate does not bother me19 - How does this not suppose to bother anybody? In fact, it bothered Richard Nixon so much, he ended up resigning as the President of the United States. He's only one living president to do so. What a shame? Nevertheless, this whole incident doesn't bother Lynyrd Skynyrd because their hillbilly governor, George Wallace, too supported the Watergate scandal.

Besides the lyrics of the song, there's the use of Confederate Flag on the poster released to support the song.
That's what I can think of this silly song. Feel free to disagree with me if you think otherwise.

  1. Big wheels keep on turning
  2. Carry me home to see my kin
  3. Singing songs about the Southland
  4. I miss Alabamy once again
  5. And I think it's a sin, yes

  6. Well I heard mister Young sing about her
  7. Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
  8. Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
  9. A Southern man don't need him around anyhow

  10. Sweet home Alabama
  11. Where the skies are so blue
  12. Sweet Home Alabama
  13. Lord, I'm coming home to you

  14. In Birmingham they love the governor(Boo! Boo! Boo!)
  15. Now we all did what we could do
  16. Now Watergate does not bother me
  17. Does your conscience bother you?
  18. Tell the truth

  19. Sweet home Alabama
  20. Where the skies are so blue
  21. Sweet Home Alabama
  22. Lord, I'm coming home to you
  23. Here I come Alabama

  24. Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
  25. And they've been known to pick a song or two
  26. Lord they get me off so much
  27. They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
  28. Now how about you?

  29. Sweet home Alabama
  30. Where the skies are so blue
  31. Sweet Home Alabama
  32. Lord, I'm coming home to you

  33. Sweet home Alabama
  34. Oh sweet home baby
  35. Where the skies are so blue
  36. And the governor's true
  37. Sweet Home Alabama
  38. Lordy
  39. Lord, I'm coming home to you
  40. Yea, yea

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