Do an internet search for a link between Neil Young's song Southern Man and Lynyrd Skynyrd's song Sweet Home Alabama. What is the connection between these two songs?Most likely the teacher will be watching for those who fail to do the research and merely report that Neil & Skynyrd were feuding. However there's really more to the picture than meets the eye...
Neil wrote the songs Southern Man and Alabama for his After the Goldrush and Harvest albums, respectively. Each of the songs indicted the stereotypical southern racist attitudes that were somewhat prevelant in The South in the 60s & early 70s. Check the lyrics to see just what the songs have to say on the issue.
A few years later (in 1974) Lynyrd Skynyrd decided to answer those songs from the "Southern Rock" point of view, and so was born the song Sweet Home Alabama. The song, which espouses some of the good things about Southern culture, includes the lines:
"I hope Neil Young will remember,As a result of these songs, a lot of people assumed that there was a feud between Neil and Lynyrd Skynyrd. But the fact is that they were mutual fans!
A southern man don't need him around anyhow"
Ronnie Van Zant often wore Neil Young T-shirts while performing (check out Freebird -- the Movie) and it has always been rumored that he was wearing one when the plane went down.
Neil had actually offered a couple of his songs (including one that later became one of his most popular - Powderfinger) to Skynyrd, but the plane crashed before they got around to doing anything with them.
A couple of weeks after the plane crash, Neil performed his song Alabama at a concert in Miami -- and changed the chorus of the song to sing "Sweet Home Alabama" several times.
Despite Ronnie Van Zant's respect for Neil, Ronnie's younger brother Johnny, who fronts the current version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, chooses to play to the crowd by taunting Neil when they play Sweet Home Alabama these days... :-( That's about as close to a "feud" as exists, because even while this taunting goes on at their shows, lead guitarist Gary Rossington has told Guitar World (in the April 2000 issue):
"Like the Beatles, Neil Young was another guy who helped us get started writing real songs. It was because of his unique style, his chord changes and what his songs expressed - all the shit he did back then. As much as we loved his songs, when he wrote about 'Alabama and bullwhips crackin' ' we had to answer with Seet Home Alabama. We toured all through Alabama for years, and it's pretty country, with plenty of great people. We weren't hanging out in the cities or with the politicians. So, we were just kidding him when we wrote that we didn't need him cuttin' down Alabama. We loved him so it was meant kind of tongue-in-cheek. He immediately sent a telegram to our manager saying he liked the song, which we thought was pretty cool. Then he came onstage in California and actually played the song with us. That was VERY cool."According to the August 14, 2000 issue of the Boston Globe, who interviewed Neil after his 8/12 show at Tweeter Center, there's some dispute about Gary's last statement there...
Sitting in a dark, candlelit room sipping tea, Young said it almost happened, but never did. In 1970, Young penned Southern Man, taking the American South to task about racism. Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant retaliated with Sweet Home Alabama, featuring the line "I hope Neil Young will remember / A Southern man don't need him around anyhow!" The story runs that Young joined Skynyrd, at their behest, onstage and sang that very song. Nope. Young says they had plans to do exactly that, but fate intervened. Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane went down on Oct. 20, 1977, killing Van Zant and two others. Young did reveal this: Van Zant was wearing a Neil Young T-shirt when he perished.Since Neil sometimes has his "senior moments" maybe he forgot about playing with them. Or since Rossington did his fair share of mind-meddling substances over the years, perhaps his memory of it was really a dream. I guess unless somebody comes up with a good tape of the show where this supposedly happened, we'll have to take Neil's word that it didn't really happen.