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Hello hello! I know things here have taken a real musical bent lately, but my current place of employment involves me doing nothing but standing in place, packing boxes, and listening to whatever station the factory is playing this day. It’s on my mind.

This week I’ll be doing a series of my top 5 Most Misunderstood Songs Ever, one a day. Today’s song is:

Most Misunderstood Song #1: Sweet Home Alabama

What everyone thinks: It’s a song about Alabama, which makes a pretty sweet home. Maybe it’s the state anthem or something.

The Truth: It’s pretty much anti-anti-racism. That’s racist, for those following along.

Let’s have a history lesson. Once upon a time African Americans were segregated in the US. This was a hugely dumb idea, and so a law was passed to integrate our society. Unfortunately, the racism didn’t stop there. Alabama was notably hesitant in its movement forward.

Niel Young saw this racism going on and said to himself, that’s a pretty lame thing. And so he wrote two songs: Southern Man and Alabama. They basically said, hey. Stop that racism thing. Also you should apologize for being a jerk, Alabama.

Was it wrong of him to pick specifically on Alabama? Maybe. But the Band Lynyrd Skynyrd was having none of it. They couldn’t bear to see Alabama called out in this way. So then, THEY wrote a song.

Sweet Home Alabama.




Makes all those “I heard Niel Young sing about her” and “Southern Man don’t need you ’round anyhow” lyrics make more sense if you didn’t know.

In Conclusion: People need to get over this song. It’s a song written to hate on a song written to hate on racism. Plus how many people who love this song have even been to Alabama? I don’t even think the majority of Lynyrd Skynyrd were from Alabama. If any. Holy cow.

8 Responses to “Music Examination Week! Day 1”

  1. on 10 Jun 2008 at 6:02 pm Jason G

    Not a bad read. I sure hope that Bruce Springsteens “Born in the USA” makes the list.

    I love how die hard patriots think this song embodies america when in fact its about how America has really horrible during Vietnam.

    Born down in a dead man’s town
    The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
    You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
    ‘Til you spend half your life just covering up

    Born in the U.S.A.
    Born in the U.S.A.
    Born in the U.S.A.
    Born in the U.S.A.

    I got in a little hometown jam
    And so they put a rifle in my hands
    Sent me off to Vietnam
    To go and kill the yellow man


    Come back home to the refinery
    Hiring man says “Son if it was up to me”
    I go down to see the V.A. man
    He said “Son don’t you understand”


    I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
    Fighting off the Viet Cong
    They’re still there, he’s all gone
    He had a little girl in Saigon
    I got a picture of him in her arms

    Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
    Out by the gas fires of the refinery
    I’m ten years down the road
    Nowhere to run, ain’t got nowhere to go

    I’m a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
    Born in the U.S.A.
    I’m a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
    Born in the U.S.A.

  2. on 11 Jun 2008 at 10:56 am Clark

    Sweet Home Alabama is not a defense of racism. It points out that Southerners do not need to feel guilty just because somebody makes sweeping accusations against them as a group.
    It seems that people from outside of the region see no irony in accusing Southerners of bigotry based on what they’ve heard about them.

  3. on 11 Jun 2008 at 4:53 pm Heather

    Oh man, this song is a testament to how well received a song can be if it has a upbeat tempo and the only lyric people can understand is the chorus.

  4. on 11 Jun 2008 at 4:54 pm Karen

    I wasn’t accusing Southerners of racism. I mentioned old laws, and three song, and said one of them was hating on the other two, which were hating on racism.

  5. on 11 Jun 2008 at 4:55 pm Karen

    PS: guess who’s from “the south”?

  6. on 11 Jun 2008 at 8:48 pm CheeseDuck

    Uhm. That song has words? I just assumed the guy was humming along in gibberish.

  7. on 19 Jun 2008 at 3:38 pm MusicLoverNotFromTheSouth

    If you were forthright, you would post a retraction stating that perhaps you didn’t do your necessary homework and that you apologize to Ronnie VanZant and the rest of the band. Your diatribe on the meaning of the song is so way off-base that it makes you appear shallow. Even though the lyrics were a response to the two Neil Young songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama”, that doesn’t make the song anti-anti-racism or pro-racism — rather the song is just a rant against painting every Southerner as racist. If you are still uncertain as to the meaning of “Sweet Home Alabama”, let me provide you with this quote from the 1974 Rolling Stones article in which Ronnie says, “We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two.” That is what he took issue with in that song, he didn’t take issue with people who were anti-racist — Ronnie was fervently anti-racist. Get your facts straight. Further, Ronnie VanZant was one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the rock and roll era, and he was a great human being as well. He genuinely loved his fellow man (he tried to steer kids away from drugs by singing openly and honestly about his past drug problems — “The Needle and the Spoon”, “Gimme Back My Bullets” and “That Smell”) and he admiration for all people including African Americans (listen to “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe”). Listen closely to all of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s songs and I defy you to find hate in them — you’ll find no such thing. More importantly, do a little research on the man before you go besmirching his good, no make that, great name. You should be ashamed of such a shallow posting.


  8. on 23 Jun 2008 at 2:47 pm MusicLoverNotFromTheSouth

    Sorry, please excuse me for having missed the comedy on your comedy blog. And, before you go asking — yes, I am humorless.

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