Talk:Sweet Home Alabama

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In Agreement with the posts above[edit]

First of all a listener would need to read and listen to the lyrics of the songs. Much like a poem it would be a wise measure to digest the directions one could interpret Sweet Home Alabama before posting something publicly.

Whomever wrote the interpretation on Wikipedia could be entirely incorrect? How would you feel as a Southerner reading Neil Young's lyrics in a time of turmoil (Vietnam, Nixon) and following civil rights movement?

If you study the economy and industrialization of Birmingham (steel, manufacturing) a small Pittsburgh, PA in some ways, Neil Young's comments seem too generalized.

Write a song about Eugene Bull Connor and his police force, or Wallace himself. Read parts of Young's songs below.

It's good to think about and healthy to discuss our history and culture in our songs. There are some other powerful songs on civil rights type themes: Dylan James Meredith, Emmet Till, Birmingham Bombing (Joan Baez, beautiful song)...

Here are some lyric samples. WIKIPEDIA, get some help!

Chorus to Neil Young's Southern Man

Southern man better keep your head Don't forget what your good book said Southern change gonna come at last Now your crosses are burning fast Southern man

I heard screamin' and bullwhips cracking How long? How long?

Lyric Samples from Neil Young Alabama

Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders That's breaking your back. Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch And a wheel on the track

Oh Alabama. Can I see you and shake your hand. Make friends down in Alabama. I'm from a new land I come to you and see all this ruin What are you doing Alabama? You got the rest of the union to help you along What's going wrong?

Strange fact: "George Wallace was the governor of Alabama when this was released. He loved this, especially the line, "In Birmingham they love the governor." He made the band honorary Lieutenant Colonels in the state militia."

There is some lively discussion at this website:

And, "Born in the USA" was used by the Reagan campaign in 1984, even though the lyrics were clearly critical of American society.... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:15, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

If it's true, then that's very important and needs to be in the article. That site also has a post that claims wallace tried to make SHA the state song but he wanted "BOO BOO BOO" removed. The post said a Van Zant refused, so the song did not become the state song. If true, this would mean wallace liked the song but didn't want the song's clear dissaproval of him to be imortalized officially. (That is, it reflects wallace's own life in that he later regretted adopting segregationist views just because he thought it was a convenient way to get elected. Segregation meant nothing more to him than an "issue", an important messy lesson of history.) The words "BOO BOO BOO" are crystal clear, there is no need for debate as to any other interpretation, the 'B' sound is quite present 3 times over. "woo hoo hoo" sort of ignores that no 'w' sound is heard on the first syllable, and no 'h' is heard on the last two. Ace Frahm 10:01, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

If the song clearly disapproved of Wallace, why leave it in the backing vocals? The fact is the two definitive statements about him are: (1)"In Birmingham they love the governor", and (2) "and the governor's true". I think that's pretty positive.--Jack Upland (talk) 08:40, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Yeah but, One thing that IS completely verifiable is that the chorus is accompanied by a (black) gospel choir... unlikely the first choice of a pro-segregationist. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

So the song's message is this: Alabama is a great place, but it's got plenty of racists, and we disapprove of that, and we love those black musicians, but how dare Neil Young criticise it, and by the way what was wrong with the Watergate burglary.--Jack Upland (talk) 10:28, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
No, the song's message is this: Alabama is more diverse than the very vocal racist segment would lead you to believe. Please don't generalize us for the actions and thoughts of some ugly people. Yes Birmingham loves the racist, horrible governor. We don't judge all northerners because of Watergate, please don't lump our band/all Alabamans with Birmingham. Jaweldon (talk) 05:20, 28 July 2014 (UTC)

Is this song based on a Howlin Wolf Track?[edit]

I have listened to the Howlin Wolf album 'Message to the Young' which appeared in 1971 and the song 'If I were a bird' sounded like Sweet Home Alabama from Lynyrd Skynyrd. Since it was recorded three years earlier I wonder if it was not 'stolen' from Howlin Wolf. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:13, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Hallo. I would say that the vocal line is ripped off from some older blues. It is the same one in You're looking fine from The Kinks (1966). As Ray Davies never dared to sue Lynyrd Skynyrd for plagio, I guess that perhaps he was conscious of having used something from somewhere. (talk) 11:11, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

So Howlin Wolf attacked Neil Young first?--Jack Upland (talk) 11:24, 15 September 2015 (UTC)

No rock/pop song is born from void. They all have roots in some previous material. I guess this song is more about the clever lyrics than the banal melody46.14.140.220 (talk) 21:04, 11 December 2015 (UTC)


I'm from the south. The word "swamper" is used in the oil field to refer to a crew member who is there for general labor, a helper. The article says they were called "swamper" due to their "swampy" sound. I doubt that is what was actually meant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jcacy00 (talkcontribs) 13:31, 15 August 2014 (UTC)

The Similarity Between "Sweet Home Alabama" and "You're Lookin' Fine" by the Kinks[edit]

The comment at the very end of the "Controversy" section of this segment concerning this should be removed. As a professional musician of 40+ years, I hear no distinct correlation between the two songs. The lines "You're Lookin' Fine" and "Sweet Home Alabama" don't even have the same syllabic rhythm. The words "note for note" would imply that the melody was stolen from this song, as "notes" are what constitute the structure of a melody, and not even the cascade of the verse lines are the same. This comment should be deemed bogus and removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:48, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

 Done. It should not be added unless it is accompanied by a reliable source. GoingBatty (talk) 05:01, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

Hallo GoingBatty. I came here intrigued after your comment in Youtube on "You're looking fine". I am also a musician and don't see it so clear as you now. That fifth little bridge verse the Kinks sing ("and I said") is very idiosincratic and Lynyrd Skynyrd eagerly replicated it with different syllable counts but same time whole count ("tell the truth" but also "And I think it's a sin", "Now how about you?"). No bogus there. I wouldn't cry to plagiarism or theft but I'd point to a very close unvoluntary quote as it always happens in pop songs. I dare to say that the author of the second song had obviously listened to the first one. Not so strange if you consider that the first band was not so obscure and the author of the second song had listened to mainstream pop in his teens. Anyway, both songs have a simple three-chord blues line and brilliant, different opening riffs. LS's song sticks as an opening guitar riff + clever lyrics. K's song is about a brilliant opening piano riff. By the way, I don't think that the Kinks created their song from scratch. I bet they had heard that bluesy cliché somewhere. I hope some reader leads us to the original source from which both bands are drinking. (talk) 20:37, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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NOT against Neil Young[edit]

Sweet Home Alabama was NOT a name check against Neil Young! I could argue the point, but just watched 20 Feet To Stardom, and the backup singer on the song elucidates, starting at 47:13 minutes. That song winks at you the whole time it plays. Pb8bije6a7b6a3w (talk) 21:29, 9 October 2016 (UTC)