How Ronnie Van Zant And Neil Young’s Feud Led To An Iconic Classic Rock Song

As stated in Far Out Magazine, Neil Young followed up his criticism of the American South, “Southern Man,” with another song that explored the region’s history of racism, “Alabama.” In liner notes, Young clarified that the track wasn’t meant to be a specific rebuke of the state: “Actually, the song is more about a personal thing than it is about a state. And I’m just using that name and that state to hide whatever it is I have to hide; I don’t know what that means.”

However, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s singer Ronnie Van Zant did not interpret “Alabama” as such, believing that the song was unnecessarily harsh, broad, and condescending towards the state. (Notably, Lynyrd Skynyrd are not from Alabama: Their hometown is Jacksonville, Florida.) According to Far Out Magazine, he told Rolling Stone, “We thought Neil was shooting all the ducks in order to kill one or two. We’re Southern rebels, but more than that, we know the difference between right and wrong.” Van Zant and the rest of the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd took it upon themselves to fight back, and so “Sweet Home Alabama” was born, featuring the lines: “Well I hope Neil Young will remember / a Southern man don’t need him around anyway.” Released in 1974, it was the band’s highest-charting song up to that point, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending 17 weeks on the chart. Since then, it’s become not only one of the band’s most famous songs, but also an iconic classic rock track.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: