Sweet Home Alabama

We are beginning a new series this year on songs about the states.    Some of the songs will be the official state songs and other selections will be popular songs about that particular state.   I hope you enjoy!


Sweet Home Alabama

When thinking about songs concerning the states, Sweet Home Alabama is one of the best-known songs featuring a state, along with songs such as New York, New York,

Mobile, Alabama

Georgia and Carolina in the Morning.

Gary Rossington, the only original member of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, stated that the song began with the riff. He said in a published interview, “It’s the little picking part and I kept playing it over and over when we were waiting on everyone to arrive for rehearsal. Ronnie {Van Zant} and I were sitting there, and he kept saying, play that again. “

According to band member, Ed King, that the two main guitar solos came to him that evening in a dream and wrote the intro. King and Rossington wrote the music and Van Zant wrote the lyrics to Sweet Home Alabama. None of these men are originally from Alabama, but the song was written while they were touring through Alabama.

Neil Young had a song out titled Southern Man. The song makes mention of Young in the lyrics and some believe it led to a rife with Young. However, according to band members, it did not. Several bands members are on record as saying Van Zant was a huge fan and loved Neil Young and his music.

Bayou la Batre, Alabama

While touring through Alabama, Van Zant said: “ We need to show people how the real Alabama is.”

Sweet Home Alabama was released on the second album by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Second Helping.

Sweet Home Alabama was a hit on the charts for the still relatively new group and became their first hit.

George Wallace was Governor of Alabama at the time the song was released. He made the band members honorary Lieutenant Colonels in the state militia for the line, “”In Birmingham, they love the governor.” Van Zant stated that this was another line that was misunderstood, as there was initially the words “Boo! Boo! Boo!” after that line.

At the beginning of the original track when Van Zant says “turn it up”, is considered another ad lib that remained in the original release. Van Zant was asking the engineer to turn up the volume on his headset before recording his track.

Birmingham, Alabama

This was also the first song on which the band used female background singers, although they never met their background singers for the album recording.

Neil Young only performed the song one time. That was at the memorial service for three of the members that died in a 1977 plane crash. Van Zant was one of those band members to perish in the crash.

The country group Alabama also performed a rendition of this song.

The song is performed in a number of films including Forrest Gump, 8 Mile, Crimson Tide, Despicable Me and Con Air. Of course, the best-known film is that with the name of the song,  Sweet Home Alabama, the 2002 hit featuring Reese Witherspoon.

Rossington believes Sweet Home Alabama is a hit because “no matter where you’re from, sweet home Alabama or sweet home Florida or sweet home Arkansas, you can relate.”

In 2009, the state of Alabama began printing “Sweet Home Alabama” as the official slogan on their motor vehicle license plates.


Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com