Yes, Maybe A Southern Man Does Need Neil Young Around, Anyhow
I hope Neil Young will remember, a southern man don't need him around anyhow
— Alex Harmata (@aharmata) December 27, 2012
For long time Thrasher's Wheat readers, please bear with us here as we'll get to some actual news on the subject.
It would seem that hardly a day goes past, where we come across a blog post, Facebook status update or tweet, that attempts the "Neil Young putdown" without seeming comprehension of the context or the true story of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young.
So why even bother, you might ask?
For us, understanding the fascinating backstory of Ronnie and Neil and laying to rest the "Feud Myth" has proved to be quite challenging in these polarized times. But to know the full story is to know the true meaning of "Powderfinger". To know what is the color when black is burned. To know a trip isn't a fall.
Ronnie Van Zant with Neil Young "Tonight's The Night" T-shirt
Oakland Coliseum, July 2, 1977 - Photo by Michael Zagaris
Neil Young with Lynyrd Skynyrd/Jack Daniels Whiskey T-Shirt
Verona, Italy 7.9.1982 - Photo by Paolo Brillo on Flickr
"Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
a southern man don't need him around anyhow"
a southern man don't need him around anyhow"
Growing up in the American South in the 1970's as a Neil Young fan wasn't exactly easy. It seems as if all of our life that whenever the subject of musical tastes came up and we revealed our appreciation of Young's music, almost invariably it was met with those lines above from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" .
You see, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" is more than just an anthem for many -- it serves as a statement for a way of life that is intensely protected such that when threatened -- it can produce some very uncomfortable results.
"Sweet Home Alabama", written by Lynyrd Skynyrd partially in response to Young's "Alabama" and "Southern Man" contains the apocryphal line: "I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don't need him around anyhow". In his recent book Waging Heavy Peace, Young writes of his "Alabama" lyrics:
"I don't like my words when I listen to it today. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue."Which brings us to the actual news that Lynyrd Skynrd have taken a stand and denounced the Confederate flag. In the CNN clip below from last year, Gary Rossington, says that the band, recognizing the stars-and-bars flag's offensive and racist undertones, will cease using it as a stage decoration at concerts supporting its new album "Last of a Dyin' Breed."
So what could be the possible problem with what seems to be enlightened 21st century thinking? Well, it turns out that this decision has angered their fan base. Really. From Lynyrd Skynrd denounces Confederate flag, angering some fans - latimes.com by August Brown:
"Through the years, people like the KKK and skinheads kinda kidnapped the Dixie or Southern flag from its tradition and the heritage of the soldiers, that's what it was about," Rossington said. "We didn't want that to go to our fans or show the image like we agreed with any of the race stuff or any of the bad things." This apparently didn't sit well with some of the band's fans back in Dixie, who have taken to the comments section with pained vitriol. "Good luck with your next release 'Sweet home Massachusetts.' I am sure it will climb the charts with a bullet in Yankee-land," said one. "This isn't the real Lynyrd Skynyrd anyway. They should have taken a name like 'Obama's Politically Correct Sell Your Soul Make Believe Impostors' or something," opined another.And the negative reaction to the announcement continued in the article's comments:
G. D. Smith: It's a shame that instead of hiding the battle flag out of political correctness, they didn't attempt to help educate the public about the rich history and heritage of the South. The last time I saw a story about the KKK, they were flying the Stars & Stripes. Yet in almost every picture you showed of LS in concert, they had Old Glory out there on stage. Does that mean they're now KKK members? Of course not. But by ignoring and denying the flag that is part of their history, they are leaving a large segment of their fan base behind as well. It's a shame that money is now more important than honor and heritage.
L R Stover: So y'all admit during the interview that the Confederate Flag represents history, heritage and the Confederate soldier, then you stop flying it because some misinformed people equate the flag with racism instead of continuing to educate people on our Southern symbol? Quoting Johnny Van Zant, "We speak for our fans, we speak for ourselves." Well, you just lost a significant portion of your fans so continue to speak for yourself. Good luck with you next release.."Sweet home Massachusetts." I am sure it will climb the charts with a bullet in yankee-land.
Paul Cox: It's hilarious to me that old school Lynyrd Skynyrd fans conveniently gloss over the fact that the original band was actually left-leaning (they campaigned hard for Carter in 1976, wrote a pro-gun control song called "Saturday Night Special"). It's only after the replacements came in that they started spoonfeeding their conservative fanbase exactly what they wanted. The confederate flag may mean heritage to some people, but I grew up in Alabama and I know what it really means. It means that there was a point in history that states were willing to go to war with the union over the right to own human beings.And on and on...
Good ole boys be hummin Lynyrd Skynyrd @john_kass: We're sending Neil Young to Alabama to put some old hippie whupass on them good
— Amy (@allovergirl) January 8, 2013
More on the true story of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young.