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Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd : Friends or Foes?

Posted 8 years.

22 Comments

  • dr jay - 1 year ago

    well its true that we cant go back in time and read people's minds but it seems LS guys loved their homeland so much that they didnt want to believe that Neil could be right .. i wont call them racist based on an ambiguous line but they clearly felt bad about racism accusations .. which were true at the time.

  • Skynyrd Fan - 4 years ago

    I can see by the 'poll' that the author has done a good job at clouding the meaning of a TRULY time-honored and traditional song by LS. You who buy in to this drivel are more than likely the same ones that voted for our current POTUS. I split my sides with laughter as I read most of this piece and wondered how in the hell the author could make such ludicrous claims but I Guess it's there in black and white...MOST BOUGHT IN to the hype. Stupid people...

  • newdouglitas - 5 years ago

    @H.D. is totally correct. Sorry author, but the case you make doesn't convince me. Your mostly anecdotal "evidence" is weak compared to all the obvious signs that it claims to refute. Anyway, there is an equal amount of anecdotal evidence to contradict it (see the poster who shared his experience at an LS concert with the "Fuck Neil Young" banner and chant). So, I'm going with my gut: The "Southern rock" band with the Confederate flag who sung about Wallace and not needing Neil Young around is, just as they seem, a beneficiary and perpetrator of racist attitudes.

  • eve san moritz - 5 years ago

    thats your take on it only, anyone can make their own truthisms on anything
    great song no matter what

  • Smarter Than You - 5 years ago

    The history of the northern United States proves that northerners (yankees) are and have always been more racist than southerners. They just try re-write history to their advantage. Pathetic.

  • pay up - 6 years ago

    good points but...

    "I would wage a bet that factory workers in Northern towns were treated far worse and had harsher lives than plantation working slaves in the south"

    weather aside, no. dude. no.

  • Peter - 6 years ago

    They're clearly not praising Neil young, what rubbish! Silly and over analysed in this article.

    It's in response to it, it's a little bitchy. Doesn't mean they hate each other but don't go saying "oh you misunderstand! They don't mean we don't need him around like THAT, heavens no"

    Come on, be realistic. They were a bit offended that's all. Which makes LS anything but racist doesn't it?

  • Gary Wolf - 6 years ago

    I am 58. I am a criminal defense lawyer and former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. I was there. "Sweet Home Alabama" is a smug, racist song. It makes me sick to see people enjoy it. Most of the commentors here were not alive when this shit hit the fan. I was in college. A bartender. In the mix. The song is fucking ugly. I hate it and all it stands for. Young had it right.

  • Music critic - 6 years ago

    Well, you convinced your poll takers that Ronnie and the band weren't racist, but I found it unconvincing. There isn't a shrewd of evidence other than ronnie wearing a Neil Young Tshirt that they were pals. I'd note that Neil became quite conservative for a while, and even supported Ronald Reagan.
    As to the south fighting against federal intrusion, it was the south that wanted any new state to be forced to accept slavery,and to allow them to travel with slaves. That is the opposite of states rights.

  • John Miller - 6 years ago

    Historically I always went by the rock historians writings about the established view that the 2 artistes had a long-running feud, i.e. the meaning of their lyrics had been written into rock folklore and thus burned into the collective consciences of readers of historic rock journals over the years, however as time almost always proves is that the reverse is often true, and a revision of the facts was overdue with evidence coming to light, and is so in this case, I cannot and could never imagine artistes at war with each other in such a time of political upheaval, i.e Vietnam, Nixon, suppression of American black voters, as this was the common enemy of the mass of most young Americans during the late 60's/early 70's, I can only think that Lynyrd Skynyrd had to thinly vail the lyrics in order to walk the thin deviding like between southern rock lovers, and their crossover fans without upsetting one or the other, very tough call given the situation they were operating in.

  • kevin - 6 years ago

    I think "Sweet Home Alabama" is just a hugh spirited song by a very influential "southern rock band." No one will ever know the band's true intentions. The song is just "Skynyrd" at its best and people should just enjoy. The song could be a put down but it could also be as innocent as the movie of the same name. Just plain old good-hearted fun.

  • raugh - 6 years ago

    Neil Young was and is Yankee/Canadian trash.

  • LAE - 6 years ago

    H.D.= You are an idiot. Maybe you should do the investigating on history. You will find out that:
    1- Yes, the North did free the slaves, but only did so years into an intense war with people that believed in the freedoms bestowed to them by their state, not the federal government. And the North did not have a plan to offer the newly freed folks that suddenly became unemployed and homeless. It was more of a tactical strategy to cripple the economic make up of the south rather than some noble moral gesture that it was made out to be.
    2- Racism is the belief that a race is somehow genetically inferior to another. Everyone has PREJUDICES but not everyone is a racist. As a society, we have moved so far away from the real issues by cloaking them in politically correct bee es that very few of us can see a bigger picture.
    3- The confederate flag is only a symbol of racism because the other side deemed it so. Most people in the south that fly the flag, remember their family members who died under that flag for what they believed was right and what they believed was that the federal government did not have the right to aggressively turn on its on people to push the ideas and legislation of the Fed over the state. President Lincoln was the first president to disregard the constitution for the attainment of power and control by the rich. After all, he was a Republican. The rich factory owners of the north wanted the raw materials of the south. Had the south started to trade with other countries and drive up the cost of the raw materials, the north would have to pay more and make less. I would wage a bet that factory workers in Northern towns were treated far worse and had harsher lives than plantation working slaves in the south.

    But you can wrap up the Civil War, the confederate flag, and southerner in a nice red, white and blue with stars and bars package called racism. You can do this because it helps your conscience explain away the raids, massacre's, murders, raping and pillaging, and burning of towns and cities food supplies that the Union army inflicted upon the south. Yeah, the south deserved it, they're all a bunch of racists.

  • aaron - 7 years ago

    I live in Alabama and I saw Skynard play in Huntsville. During sweet home Alabama they brought out a big banner that said "fuck Niel Young" and got the crowd to start chanting it. I think that pretty much ends this debate ha ha

  • H.D. - 7 years ago

    It's nice to hear the real story of the song, that they were actually not racist etc. That said, four things:

    1) They could have clarified it when they introduced the song live. Like at the start of Sunday Bloody Sunday U2 says "There's been a lot of talk about this next song. This song is NOT a rebel song. This song is Sunday Bloody Sunday."

    And they could have clarified it a lot more times than in passing in a couple of obscure interviews down the road that almost no one saw.

    If you're going to mock racism, Wallace and people who don't give a shit about the President breaking numerous laws, and 90% of your audience and the whole public doesn't realize you're mocking those things, and thinks you're supporting those thing, speak up. Especially when you're making a ton of money and your livelihood would not be really hurt by it.

    There's very little in the song that makes it clear they're mocking those things. The "boo boo boo" chorus doesn't sound much like booing. I never made that association once that they were booing the statement.

    And the part about Montomery has the answer being an allusion to King's former march to Montgomery being an answer isn't very clear at all. 99% of the lyrics come off as conservative and racist. Like "The governor is true." "Watergate does not bother me" and "They all loved the governor."

    2) The point that they might also have been playfully saying "Neil - only a tiny number of us in the south are racist, and we can take care of the situation" would be a nice, but former part was mostly untrue back at the time. Huge numbers of whites when segregation ended and soon after were very racist, and today there is still a lot. The latter part about "we can take care of our things" was totally untrue.

    It was the North that ended slavery, and it was Kennedy and the north that forced the end of segregation. And it was lots of people from the northern half of the US (including many priests and nuns) who traveled to the south to march to support civil rights.

    And relatively few white southerners stood up and spoke out for blacks, let alone did much to protect them. Just do any research on history or talk to any black who was in Alabama at that time. The national guard had to be sent because the southern "men" were not doing hardly anything and certainly weren't doing all they could do.

    So in fact the truth is that the southern "men" did need people like Neil around. They should be thanking Neil and the northerners for doing what they would not do - which was openly speak against it or take action to end it. In fact, many of their favorite athletes at Florida, Alabama, UT etc. in football and basketball that they go nuts for would not be allowed to play at those schools if the northern men and women didn't care enough to help out the south.

    The true song would be to thank them like a friend who was helped by another friend who told them the truth, and shook them back to the truth, and say "Thanks for telling me the truth. I was off and I'm back on track now thanks to you. You're a true friend. I appreciate it."

    3) Ronnie says the rebel flag was a record company gimmick and it became embarrassing after some time. Dude, have some freakin balls and be man enough to decide what you are going to put out into the world. If you don't want a flag that represented slavery and racism being a key symbol of your band, don't use it. And open your f'in mouth and tell your fans and the world why. How fake to act like the southern tough dudes., but are really f'in wimps who are scared to be true to do what they think is right, and scared to speak up. That is not "we all did what we could do." That's "I'm a wimp and I won't do much."

    Sorry guys. It's a catchy tune, but you mostly wimped out. And there are already lots of catchy tunes.

    4) The fact Neil spoke graciously about the song and band a number of times just shows you what a nice guy Neil is. Also, he was informed early on that

  • Lart - 7 years ago

    The so called feud was nothing more than a little bit of fun that has been mutually beneficial to a very high degree for both artists. It's getting close to 40 years after the release of "Sweet Home Alabama" and the song is still in heavy rotation on Classic Rock, Oldies and Seventies stations. I hear it multiple times per week..Neil Young must be quite happy to know that millions still hear and sing along to his name on the car radio while driving to work everday. The response recording of the song, also gave Lynyrd Skynyrd the opportunity to create one of rock histories greatest iconic anthems.

  • har168421 - 7 years ago

    It's easy to simplify racism with slogans or a flag, but Southern pride does not equate to racism. Even the bars and stars have a deeper meaning for Southerners than simply the Confederate battle flag. I wasn't born here, but I grew up in Jacksonville and have lived all over. The percentage of racists in the South is about the same as everywhere. But what is exceptional in the South is a regional sense of pride. Skynyrd wrote a good song about it, and it's no more complicated than that.

    But here's the thing, and I'm a Neil Young fan too. What people always seem to miss is the inherent and probably unintended racism in anti-racist songs. "Southern Man?" What? Was Neil singing only to white Southern men or did he not consider black men as men? Southern man don't need him around is the same as saying, " Hey, we have our problems, but we can solve them without you judging them or exploiting them for some money."

    God knows there's rednecks down here. But I grew up in the desegregation and busing era, and most of what I knew about violence over these issues is what I read in the newspapers about conflicts in Northern cities like Boston and Chicago.

  • Barry Barclay - 7 years ago

    As a Canadian and a fan of Neil Young I have to declare my bias upfront.But having said that the paradox is I love Sweet Home Alabama, a great song created and sung by good ol boys like the one's I used to play football with and now live with in Alberta. Weaned on racism they go on as adults in this case famous and rich to see other points of view, to treat people like people as they grew up, to not notice so much, the colour of their skin, but after a few JDs in the local honky tonk they revert back to the old bs. It's a cultural thing. You can never take the red out of redneck especially when they are hammered or just smoked a big doobie..

  • Jimbo - 7 years ago

    Interesting Article
    I have always had a bit of a grudge against Lynyrd Skynyrd for putting down one
    of my favourite singers Neil Young.
    I am looking at the whole thing in a different light now.
    By the way, I never thought they were praising George Wallace in the song, I took it that
    they were ridiculing his supporters...... I guess you can interpret these songs however you want.
    Reminds me of Randy Newman's 'Short People' song. Many people thought he
    was putting down shorties when he was making a point about the ridiculousness of prejudice....

  • Ranger Dale - 7 years ago

    This article is silly, you have little evidence to back up your arguments. Literally the only concrete proof you have of anything is that VanZant wore a t-shirt with Young's face on it. This article is 100% bee es and it drove me crazy. Just do some research and revise it it could be much better. You talk about nothing, never get to the point, barely address your thesis...

  • Dempsey - 8 years ago

    Great friendship. Competion great. To the end. Greatest artest--both. World wide fame.

  • Dempsey - 8 years ago

    Loved each other, competion, Vncent was had NY tee on when he went to Heaven. Beautiful story. Most people dont get it!!!!

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