EDITORIAL: What Made Sweet Home Alabama So Special

There’s No Place Like Home


Just like Freebird, we’ve been playing Sweet Home Alabama and still turning it up for over 40 years. Released in 1974 and has since become synonymous with Southern rock music. What makes this song so special? – Let me elaborate it for you. Everything is just right in this song. The vocals, the playing, the guitar riffs, melody, and the lyrics, and most importantly became the first state song to crack into one of the greatest songs of all-time. A classic rock song. Billy Powell’s honky-tonk piano and dueling guitar solos define the song’s greatness.

The story behind this song is somehow interesting. Neil Young writes a song about racism (so the rumor says) in the south called the “Southern Man and Alabama,” and those people, who live by the bible, are somewhat he called “hypocrites.” So, what does Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response? To sum it up in a sense, the best response that the band offered to Neil Young is, “yeah, well, eat this, ‘SWEET HOME ALABAMA’ and a good guitar lick.”

Awesome Fact: “The guitar solo in the song is actually played in the wrong key. Producer Al Kooper noticed that Ed King played the solo in the key of G instead of D, the first chord in the progression. He was so vexed that he took to tune to California, and played it for his guitarist friend Michael Bloomfield. In fact, the song is in G, and King himself rips the exuberant, melodic blues lines in the E minor pentatonic blues scale, which in the song functions as the G pentatonic scale. (from Guitar Edge magazine – July/August 2006)”

Sweet Home Alabama is some of the best Southern Rock you will ever get. Ironically, Neil Young performed this once. He played it at a memorial to the 3 members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who died in a plane crash in 1977. The fact is, Skynyrd and Neil loved each other’s music.

“Ronnie Van Zant loved Neil Young, I know there has been a lot of controversy about Neil Young and Ronnie having some kind of tiff, but they really didn’t.” –Rickey Medlocke

As for the criticism, you know that you loved both of them. Sweet Home Alabama is a timeless song, and so does the Southern Man. (But we’re not here to talk about Neil Young’s song.) We’re just very happy that Sweet Home Alabama was written. A song dedicated to the love of the South, a place many of us were born.