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Sweet Home Alabama

by

Lynyrd Skynyrd



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Lynyrd Skynyrd is from Jacksonville, Florida. They wrote this song about their impressions of Alabama and as a tribute to the studio musicians at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where they recorded from 1970-1972. The studios gained fame during the '60s and '70s when it became the vogue thing for bands to record there. Artists like Bo Diddley, Aretha Franklin, and many big Southern Rock groups recorded there. "The Swampers" was a name Leon Russell's producer Denny Cordell came up with for the musicians, and when Russell earned a Gold Record for his 1971 album Leon Russell and the Shelter People (recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios), he gave one to the guys that said, "Presented to The Swampers." (These commemorative gold records were often given to folks who helped create or market the album, and they often went to record executives or radio stations). Lynyrd Skynyrd saw the record, and when they included the line, "Muscle Shoals has got The Swampers" in this song, they popularized the nickname and brought a lot of attention to these Alabama players who worked behind the scenes on many famous recordings. To find out how the nickname originated in the first place, we asked a Swamper - bass player David Hood, who told us: "We had been working with Leon, we had been working with Denny Cordell, who was his producer. I think Denny came up with the name. We did an album called The Shelter People. And on the album there were musicians on some tracks from Tulsa - Carl Radle and some of the guys from out there - and tracks by us. And to differentiate, he wrote down "The Muscle Shoals Swampers" on the ones we did, and the Tulsa one, I don't know what he called them, but the Tulsa people on the others. And that just kind of took.

As for Skynyrd's Muscle Shoals output, they recorded a full album there in 1972 which wasn't released until 9 of the tracks were included on their 1978 album (after their tragic plane crash) Skynyrd's First and... Last. According to David Hood, the tape from the sessions, which included their song "Free Bird," got kinked at some point after it left the studio, and when the band's manager would play it for record companies, it was flipped and sounded terrible. The band wasn't happy with the Muscle Shoals crew at the time, but put aside any hard feelings when they found out the recordings were fine if played correctly. These early Skynyrd recordings were produced by Muscle Shoals house musician Jimmy Johnson; the band's first release was produced by Al Kooper.
One of the verses is an attack on Neil Young: "I hope Neil Young will remember a southern man don't need him around anyhow." Young had written songs like "Southern Man" and "Alabama," which implied that people in the Southern US were racist and stuck in the past. Skynyrd responded with this, a song about Southern pride and all the good things in Alabama. The feud between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young was always good-natured fun; they were actually big fans of each other. Ronnie Van Zant often wore Neil Young T-shirts on stage and is wearing one on the cover of Street Survivors, the last Skynyrd album before his death.
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 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)
This was the lead track on the album, and it became Skynyrd's first hit. The song was written during the sessions for the group's first album, Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, but they decided to save it so they would have a big song to open Second Helping. (thanks, Saint - New Orleans, LA, for above 2)
At the beginning, when Ronnie Van Zant says, "Turn it up," it was not planned. He was telling an engineer to turn up the volume in his headset before recording his track. The comment sounded good, so they left it in the final mix.
If you listen carefully to the line, "Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her," immediately following it, someone in the background sings, "Southern Man." Some people thought it was a recording of Neil Young, but it was their producer, Al Kooper, impersonating Young.
This was Skynyrd's first single to chart. They have never been a "singles" band, as their fans tend to buy the albums.
This was the first Skynyrd song to use female backup singers. The band never met the 3 women who sang on this, since they were recorded separately.
Guitarist Gary Rossington came up with the idea for this song. Ed King, another Skynyrd guitarist, wrote the intro, and Ronnie Van Zant wrote the lyrics. It came together quickly and easily.
The voice at the beginning that does the count-in is Ed King.
Country group Alabama did a rendition of this for a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute album.
George Wallace was the governor of Alabama when this was released. He loved the song, especially the line, "In Birmingham they love the governor," and he made the band honorary Lieutenant Colonels in the state militia. Wallace may not have listened very carefully however, as Ronnie Van Zant explained: "The lyrics about the governor of Alabama were misunderstood. The general public didn't notice the words 'Boo! Boo! Boo!' after that particular line, and the media picked up only on the reference to the people loving the governor." Van Zant added, "We're not into politics, we don't have no education, and Wallace don't know anything about rock and roll." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
In 2002, this was featured in 2 movies, one that used the song as the title. In Sweet Home Alabama, Reese Witherspoon stars as a girl who must decide between her ex-husband in Alabama or her fiancé in New York. In 8 Mile, Eminem does a rap version of the song, making fun of his mother's bumpkin boyfriend and changing the chorus to "I live at home in a trailer." The version of Sweet Home Alabama on the soundtrack was recorded by Jewel. (thanks, shawn - loganville, GA)
This was featured in the video game NASCAR Thunder 2001. EA Sports, the developer of this game, sponsored their first NASCAR race at Talladega Superspeedway, a racetrack in Alabama. The song is normally played once during NASCAR races ran at Talladega Superspeedway, an Alabama Racetrack. (thanks, Joseph - Old Bridge, NJ)
An acoustic version sung by Johnny Van Zant is featured on Lynyrd Skynyrd's 1994 album Endangered Species. (thanks, Aaron - Twin Cities, MN)
This is featured in the 1997 movie Con Air. The escaped convicts listen to it during a party on the plane after getting away from an US Marshals raid. One of the characters, a serial killer played by Steve Buscemi, remarks: "Ironic, isn't it? Flying an airplane while listening to a song played by a band whose members got killed in a plane crash." (thanks, Maciej - Lublin, Poland)
This plays in the movie Forrest Gump near the end of the film when Forest and Jenny are reunited.
This returned to the UK chart in 2008 thanks to Kid Rock's hit "All Summer Long," which namechecks this song and borrows its guitar melody.
Al Kooper confirmed with us that near the end of the song, Ronnie Van Zant says, "Montgomery's got the answer," a reference to the Alabama state capitol. It's hard to make out what he's saying, and Q magazine, perhaps to mess with people, printed in their August 2008 issue a story that Ronnie Van Zant treated himself to a box of doughnuts before the session, which were eaten by his bandmates, prompting him to say, very angrily, "My doughnuts! Goddamn!"
In 2009 the state of Alabama began printing the words "Sweet Home Alabama" as an official slogan on its motor vehicle license plates. The state's previous plate featured another song, the jazz standard, "Stars Fell On Alabama."
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Lynyrd Skynyrd Artistfacts
More Lynyrd Skynyrd songs
More songs with U.S. states in the title
More songs inspired by other musicians
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More songs that mention other musicians in the lyrics
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More songs about pride in your heritage

Comments (122):

Reading these comments is so fun... first, wanna point out: there are LOTSA songs written about Kentucky... (I'm a Louisville native); don't know why KFC picked this song as part of an ad campaign, but I don't understand ALOT of things KFC does, and has done. second, this song is just very tight, very bluesy, and the perfect expression of Southern pride. the guitar licks are unforgettable, and the lyrics as a whole really do articulate Southern sentiment at the time of Watergate., aand there is very much a Southern self-consciousness re: how folks not from the South, view us, and this self-consciousness still very much exists. Different parts of the South display this self-consciousness, differently: Atlanta is likely the most welcoming of all Southern cities, of folks from other cultures than Southern; Atlanta likely is the Southern locale most comfortable in her own skin. Louisville, in my opinion (and I am a native, so... that and $4.00 gets me a fancy coffee at Starbucks, right?) ishas a weirdness and identity crisis all her own; very into the arts and being part of the 'in'crowd, when all is said and done, she's a NYC wannabe. But oh, wow, she still has this thing about clutching her Southernness to her chest like i an Oscar statue. Nashville, very statuesque and educated, yet the epi-center for Old Country and New. New Orleans...... WOW, she's another planet, entirely. Little Rock, sprawling and rough around the edges and defensive as only Country-Come-to-Town can be; Birmingham, genteel, proud and a Steel Magnolia- Alabama has her own code of behavior (think cotillion), talk (quite smooth, indirect, sorta clubby). Memphis has it own distinct flavor, as do Dallas, Houston, Savannah, Hattiesburg, Decatur, Tampa, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Lexington, KY, Charlotte. The South is a fantastic place. Come see, what you experience may completely surprise you! We're all God's children...
- Beth, Georgetown, IN
I have noticed a couple of comments on here about people from the South being racists.....some of you have a lot to learn....I am originally from the South....born and raised there. I have lived in 20 different states, from the north to the west and even on the east coast. From all my travels, do you know where I found the most racists people??.....Hold on to your hat.....it is the East Coast.....NO COMPETITION.......horrible horrible racists.....there are bigoted people everywhere you go. So to automatically assume the South is the most racists is just being judgmental.....you don't know what you are talking about, get out and travel around the country, and I guarantee you will know just what I am talking about...............
- Jed, Fond du Lac, WI
OH Please, The south isn't STILL VERY prejudice? Neil Young was RIGHT ON. Lenard did his song for publicity and money. The song has a life of it's own now and it shows the truth about the real prejudices that still exist in the South. I was born in the south, but left at 2 yrs old. My dad was civil service. Spent 16 years around military bases in the Canal Zone. Totally unsegregated. But anybody from there knew of the US CIVIL government's official segregated Cities, even in the 1970's, with"Rainbow City", where the blacks lived, and the white town's, like Los Rios, where I lived. I returned to Southern Alabama (Dothan area)and got a job doing remodeling. That put me in the homes of thousands of Southerners. After we got past the, "You aint from here, is you?" statement, I told them my story about being born in the south and leaving and returning. That got their trust, even without the southern accent. I OFTEN heard their stories, including deep seated hatred for the blacks. They would ask me if there were any "darkies" (or the "N" word) on my remodeling crews, because they preferred I didn't send them to "case their house". On several occasions, they would take me to their garage and show me a "shrine" to Robert E. Lee, along with some Confederate money and guns. They still believe the South will rise again. In Cottonwood, there's a natural hot spring spa that was vacated by a Doctor who lost his license. A group of African Americans from Atlanta bought the place as a getaway. What they didn't know, was that Cottonwood was a secret hotbed for the KKK. In fact, it was in Cottonwood that I saw several of those "Garage Shrines". The Spa mysteriously burned down. Hmmm. In Dothan, they had a marble stone marker in the middle of highway 231 with the statement "George Wallace Whiteway" Around 1990, it was moved to a less conspicuous place on the west side of the circle, but it's still there. Shameful. The truth is, I met a lot of nice people in the south. I had 3 partners, all all of them "died in the wool Southerners". In public, you would hear their political correct talk of helping out the African American population, but in private, I got to hear their true feelings. Same goes for a group of attorneys, a judge I knew and the town Mayor. That's the strange duality found there. Nice people, wrong thinking. Mostly due to parents influences I think. But there's no Northerners, no laws that will ever change that. I see one thing that IS changing that, though. And Southerners may not see it themselves, so there is hope. The younger generation is far more mobile then the older one and they are living in other areas, then retuning. They bring back a more tolerant way of thinking. Also, many people are moving in from other States. When I used to go out to give estimates, maybe 90% were Southerners, 10% from other areas. Now its closer to 65% Southerns, 35% from other areas. Things are achangin'. Northerners, be patient. Southerners, keep your pride in your heritage, but do something to clean up the poor black areas that still exists. They are hotbeds of discontent that someday will explode and you will live to regret it. (By the way, I did remodeling on the Black's homes, too. And they opened up to me about their feelings. They know of the Southerners secret prejudices and they won't be held back forever.)
- jacka-1@hotmail.com, jacka-1@hotmail.com, AL
I was in Rome last year; coming down the Spanish steps by the Trevi Fountain when I heard a guy playing "Sweet Home Alabama" on the guitar! I live in Birmingham, AL, so I was doubly amused...
The above reference to "In Birmingham they love the governor" is correct. Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, would not support George Wallace in gubernatorial elections; resulting in the withholding of highway funding for Interstate 65 through the county. The interstate was not completed until about 1987. Until that time, if you wanted to drive south to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, or other beach destinations, you had to exit the interstate at Jefferson county and drive on US 31; with all its traffic and stoplights .Ye gods! Political payback is a bite in the buns.
- Dawna, Birmingham, AL
The solos is NOT in the "wrong" key
the song is written in G and the chord progression is V, IV, I therefore although the first chord is D it resolves to tonic via the IV chord
It's obvious to anyone that cares to listen properly to it
If he played it so that it resolved to D as the root it would sound completely silly
Ed King himself states that the band backed him in his argument with Al Kooper and that';s why the solo stayed as he wrote it
- Rodger, Stevenage, United Kingdom
I'm a New England Yankee that never allowed myself to like this song (even with the killer riffs), because I wasn't crazy about the lyrical content. I jsut recently looked into it a little more, discovered the mutual admiration between Young and Van Zandt, and read all the postings in Songfacts. Happy to say I've come away with a different point of view. (BTW-had a boarding house roomate in the 70's from Alabama; cool guy). But everyone who says that radio is killing this song is right. Even the Boston oldies and classic rock stations poung it every day.
- Mark, Lunenburg, MA
Everybody in Alabama knows this song as soon as they're born! It's second nature! lol This makes me proud to be from Sweet Home Alabama! xD
- Megan, Stevenson, AL
At the end when he says "My, Montgomery's got the answer" I always thought he said "Ma, Pa, don't worry Scott danced" hahaha
- Cory, Nashville, TN
I noticed a lot of these comments are from people from other countries. Most people know that Americans have the nickname Yankees. But if you come to the
Southeast U.S. and refer to a southerner as a Yankee you will be corrected immediately.
Even a lot of people in the northern states don't realize that southerners still considers themselves as rebels, and only northerners as Yankees. Just like during our Civil War. There's still a subtle separation here.
I'm making this point because in this song Wallace represents a southern hold over from a racist past, and Watergate represents the problems with the north. When someone from the north tries to make our conscious feel blame about our past or how we are slow to progress, we get defensive. In the song "in Birmingham they love the Governor…boo hoo hoo" this sounds sarcastic like isn't that to bad, and don't worry about it! "We all did what we could do". This line could mean we're doing the best we can, we'll deal with our own problems, mind your own business.
Watergate or northern problems don't bother us down here so don't worry about our problems up there. The line "does you conscious bother you", do you personally fell responsible for all that's corrupt in the north like Watergate? I don't think so! …. Now tell the truth!

It's curious that all comments that are defensive about the song are listed by people from the south.
- Paul, Montgomery , AL
>>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.

does anybody have a recording?? would be great if somebody posted a link to it...
- Valentin, Beijing, China
The last thing said in the song is hard to understand. But to me it sounds like
"My Mont-gomerys got me!". Thats "Montgomery" pronounced with a southern accent of course.
- Paul, Montgomery , AL
I am a 60 year old, New York, Jewish, ex-recording
studio engineer now doctor. I think this song has the best arrangement of any rock or country song ever produced. The integration of the background vocals with the dual leads, keyboards, rhythm is complex, subtle, beautiful. Try listening to just one track such as the background vocals or the leads, see how beautifully it is all put together.
- Bob, San Francisco, CA
I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL, and my older brother used to jam with Molly Hatchet prior to them making it big. He would take me over to visit and with both MH and LS from time to time, and I can remember the discussions about what I am about to say.
--- The references to Neil Young were a good natured poke, and they did respect his artistic ability, however it was also a 'redneck' statement to the nation. They were mirroring the general opinion that they were tired of being told by the rest of the nation how we should act (as everyone else in the South at the time was). As someone before me said, it was basically, 'yeah, we have problems, but so do you, and we don't need you telling us how to live.'
--- The primary reason the song was delayed was due the band's honest belief that the public would be upset by the anti-Young lyrics because of his popularity. The band wanted a vote to see if they would stick by their beliefs and publish or if they should change the words. They voted unanimously to stick to their beliefs and release it as it was.
--- Birmingham-Governor-Watergate, is of course a reference to then Gov. George Wallace. History/Geography 101 folks: Birmingham did not 'love' Gov Wallace. In fact Birmingham traditionally voted against him. Wallace in turn stopped the interstate highway construction at the Jefferson County (Birmingham) county line.
Also note that the nearby city of Tuskaloosa is home of the University of Alabama where the memoriable Stand In the Schoolhouse Door took place (see Forrest Gump if you don't want to look it up). The line is a satirical reference to Alabama politics and the 'good ole boy system' -- Wallace was continually being elected on his other platforms even by people who disagreed with his racist stands (even his wife was elected when he couldn't run).
--- The "Montgomery's... got the answer" is mostly just another nod to Alabama, and has nothing to do with Wallace or the Montgomery Bus Boycott as otherwise stated.
Overall the song was a humbled salute to the South in a manner of 'Yes, we have problems, but we don't need you (sorry, 'Y'all') coming down here casting your stones.'
--- Please note the progression of the words:
Alabama is a nice place; I miss it.
Piss off Neil Young.
We have some problems (racism).
But we have good things (Muscle Shoals).
So basically, stop hassling us and calling us stupid rednecks.

LASTLY, Let it be said:
Yes, I consider myself a redneck. I also happen to have three bachelor's, two master's degrees, and am a practicing Physician Assistant. I am also six months away from a doctorate degree in religious anthropology. I am in an interracial marriage (fifteen years). Redneck does not mean stupid, racist, backwards, or inbread. Sorry, but if that is your definition then YOU are the racist bastard and you can KMA.
- Tom, Jacksonville, FL
Actually the line "I hope Neil Young will remember a southern man don't need him around anyhow." reminds me that when Skynyrd opened for Young and Young was boo'd off the stage for Lynyrd Skynyrd. Neil Young at the time was on top.
- jason, rochester, NY
David Hood is the bass player for the Swampers.His son is the amazing Patterson Hood, one of the founding members of Drive-By Truckers.They wrote song called The Three Great Alabama Icons that will tell you all you need to know about Skynyrd, George Wallace, and Bama in general.Furthermore, Ronnie and Neil were extremely admirable about each others talent and body of work. In Neils biogrophy "Shakey", it is stated that he was an honorary pall bearer at Ronnie's funeral.The Truckers also have a wonderful song called "Ronnie and Neil" that covers their relationship.Skynyrd,The Swampers, and The Truckers.May they all live forever.
- Spanky, Charleston, SC
First off, actually there was a song written about Kentucky in the 1930's. It was written by Bill Monroe, a pioneer bluegrass singer and mandolin player from the state. Anyway, Sweet Home Alabama is a great song. However Jewel did not do a great job on it. There have been some good covers, such as the Charlie Daniels band's 2004 recording from the album "Southern Rock Country Style" and Alabama's 1994 recording on the album "Skynyrd Frynds." However, the Skynyrd version remains the all time definitive version. In the end of the song, Ronnie Van Zant says, "My Montgomery's Got it's answer." My Uncle told me that years back, a radio station in Columus, Georgia, just across the river from where we live, there was a trivia question on one of the radio station that went on for five days asking what Van Zant was saying. People were saying things like "Kiss My A**" and G**D***. Nobody knew it was Montgomery's got it's answer. I do think the myth about Ronnie saying, My Donuts was kind of funny. Timeless song.
- Garrett, phenix city, AL
I like the fact that Ed King co-wrote this song. He was from Glendale,Califoria(LA)and use to be in The Strawberry Alarm Clock. Also, he was my cousin's neighbor in Glendale..A true Southern athem from a dud from southern California, how ironic...
- Jim, Long Beach, CA
Just checked around the 'Net and the "Sweet Home Alabama" license plates *are* the official state plates as of January 2009 and will be issued for at least the next five years.
- Pat, St. Paul, MN
On my last trip to Alabama a few weeks ago, I noticed that many cars and trucks sport official license plates that say "Sweet Home" at the top and "Alabama" on the bottom. I don't think it's the standard issue plate. I wonder if the band gets royalties from the state. There's also another version of the plate that says "Stars Fell On Alabama," after the jazz standard song.
- Pat, St. Paul, MN
to put it simple Lynyrd Skynyrd was saying to Neil Young yes there is racism in Alabama and always will be from both sides and we know how to live with it and dont need a yankee telling us how.
- steve, coldwater, AL
The ultaminte Southern boy song!
- Robert, Atlanta, GA
the teachers name was lenard skinerd(not sure of spelling)...the y's are a reference to the byrds
- bill, waco, TX
One of the backup vocalist on this song was Merry Clayton. She backed Mick Jagger on "Gimme Shelter" (unbeleivable vocals on that one)and even sang some backup vocals for Neil Young. She is also a TV and movie actress. And Dustin, your Dad must have had a tough time getting his cutter through the woods to the crash site, considering thats where the plane crashed.
- Brad, Long Island, NY
Has anyone ever heard the 2 song RECORd by Lynyrd Skynyrd called Shade Tree? I think that is what it is called! Where can you buy it and are you able to get it on a cd?
- Jeremy, V-town, GA
Has anyone ever heard the 2 song RECORd by Lynyrd Skynyrd called Shade Tree? I think that is what it is called! Where can you buy it and are you able to get it on a cd?
- Jeremy, V-town, GA
Warren Zevon must have had quite the fixation on this song. Not only did he quote the title in "Play It All Night Long" as mentioned in another comment, but his best-known song, "Werewolves of London" uses the same chord progression. In fact they also have pretty much the same tempo as well. I wonder if anyone's tried making a mash-up of the two songs?
- Joshua, La Crosse, WI
Bret micheals from poision said that the first album he had ever bought from sears was sweet home alabama and it was on his play list
- Michelle, maplewood, MN
If you listen toward the end of the song it sounds like he says "My donuts gabby"
- Tyler, Tomball, TX
Thought I'd throw something new into the ring. In the comedian Rich Hall's Otis Lee Crenshaw book "I Blame Society" which is admittedly a fictional account of his character's life, Otis Lee Crenshaw's first and only album is called "Godamn, My Donuts". The reason given is that this is the mumbled phrase you hear at the end of the song, as Ronnie noticed his Krispy Kremes being polished off in the sound booth! I'm probably wrong, but I like the idea anyway!
- Paul, London, United Kingdom
one of the best songs ever timeless
- nova, paisley, United Kingdom
This song rocks, love the guitar, the piano...

What Sweet Home Alabama became is a symbol of traditional American values.
That's why it's so often used in pick up and barbecue commercials...
The whole misunderstanding about the meaning makes me think about Springsteen's Born in the USA. Same thing happened.

I read about the argument over the key used in the solos, the producer Al Kooper wanted them in D but it was played in G (which is the song's tone anyway).
- P.A., Paris, France
at the start i've listened to it many times it doesn't sound like "turn it up " to me
- pete, nowra, Australia
I don't care much for Southern Rock or Redneck Rock or whatever you want to call it. However, I do have a soft spot for this song. The instrumentation and melodies are lovely, and it does express a very common yearning: to go back to what one knows and loves, or at least the way one remembers those things. I was never crazy about Governor Wallace. However, I can understand why there's a reference to him: Many Alabamans see him as one of them, whatever his politics, and prefer his style to what they see as the sanctimonious smugness of Yankee intellectuals. Having said those things, I have to say that using the melody (if not the lyrics) of the song in a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial makes as much sense as Jewel covering it. Who came up with those ideas?
- MusicMama, New York, NY
this song is old and is WAY overplayed on the radio
- nikki, sum where in tx, TX
kevin from dublin ireland is an idiot the song is about all the geat parts of the south and by the way ronnie's father did not beat his mother, he cant be a hillbillie because there are no mountains in alabama and simple man is about his grandmother telling to live life to be fufilled rather than accumulate a lot of material things and how would neil young no about ronnie's mother when neil and ronnie never actually met 99.99999% of southerners never did the things neil young talks about a few idiots ruined an image for an entire region so kevin if you or neil ever actually came to the south instead just critising from your socialist hideouts of canada and ireland you might actually know something by the way this is the greatest song ever by the greatest band ever crank up the skynyrd
- jordan, Darlington, SC
Great song and not very hard to play on guitar, it's a good exercise for mixing chords with riffs.
- Dirk, Brasschaat, Belgium
Van Zant wrote the song to symbolize their want for the rise of the neo-confederacy
- Blake, Watertown, SD
I CANT STAND how KFC uses this song!!! it ruins it soo much. Am i right or just crazy? if anyone out there ones KFC ......STOP USING IT!
- Ben, Oakdale, CT
Govenor George Wallace wanted the song as Alabama's state song but wanted the boo boo boo part taken out, Ronnie said no,so Alabama got another state song.
- Steve, Hartselle, AL
This song is awesome
NOT REALLY!
- Whitney, cuyahoga falls, OH
This song was written as a joke by Ronnie Van Zant.
- Mike, Quakertown, PA
This song totally rocks and Ed King's opening lick on the Strat is one of the most recognized in rock history.
- Moto, Pittsburgh, PA
Lots of great comments. Thanks all. I love the playful, all hell breaks loose feel I grab from the guitar work on this song. Where it rates I don't know, but it all just "works" for me.
- mark, worcester, MI
This song means a lot to me and every time i hear it i feel happy. it's a long sotry why, but to make it short it's one of my loved one's favorite bands. i think of him every time. and its wonderful. i can imagine the old men on the porches of old alabama homes drinking jack daniels and humming this song. 5 stars. *~peace~*
- jenna madsen, eureka!, CA
Great song, and yes, it's also featured in Forest Gump when Jenny is teaching Forest how to dance.
- Chrissy, Manchester
Lynyrd Skynyrd put the "Y"s in their name in reference to The Byrds.
- Josie, Funkytown, NC
Jewels version of this song makes me want to kill myself. It's horrible.
- Ferris, Ohio, OH
Great song! However, Jewel absolutely slaughtered it on the soundtrack. She should be ashamed...Skip
- skip, North Kingstown, RI
Merry Clayton, who sings background, also sang background on the Rolling Stones "Gimmie Shelter".
Dan, Worcester
- Dan, Worcester, MA
The Swampers were the nickname of the Muscle Shoals Rhythym Scection. Ronnie Van Zant saw a gold record at their studio signed by Leon Russell that thanked the "Swampers"
- Dan, Worcester, MA
I think I read somewhere that this song is the song ( maybe apart from classical pieces) that is featured in the most movies.
- Petter, Ã?ngelholm, Sweden
When Neil Young did his tribute, did he sing the lines about himself??
- fyodor, Denver, CO
I'm surprised they brought up Neil Young..
- Nooxara, Albany, AK
For the record, Ed King swears what Ronnie says at the end is "My Govenor's got the answer" - the "My My" thing you hear at the beginning is due to the fact that producer Al Kooper double tracked Ronnie's vocals, and shut it off at the end. So you're hearing the first part twice & somewhat out of synch. And it is true that both solo's in the song were dreamed note-for-note by Ed.
- Zap, Norwalk, CT
CCR is a bay area band...
- rob, vancouver, Canada
I love the fact that there's a web site where thoughtful, articulate necks like Ash can express themselves.
- rob, vancouver, Canada
I believe the line used in conair is something more along the lines of, 'define irony, bunch of idiots dancing in a plane that was made famous by a group, that died in a plane crash" (i think that is correct... =) )
- Jon, Rochester, NY
Ed King has said this song was written at the Hell House on the first day he was on lead guitar. He was originally on bass. Ronnie replaced him on bass with Wilkeson.
- Norm, Austin, TX
"The Swampers" are David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Beckett, and Roger Hawkins a.k.a. The Muscle Shoals Rythym Section. I actually do some work at the original Muscle Shoals Sound where all the hits were recorded. These guys were the musicians responsible for the "Muscle Shoals Sound". Lots of others try to take credit for it but it was these guys who made it! Honky Soul at it's finest!! Contrary to popular belief this studio is open and operational and is near being deemed as a national landmark and will be a museum in the near future! This is the original studio @ 3614 Jackson Hwy. in Sheffield. The new owner, Noel, who by the way is one of the best people you could ever meet, has stuck with meticulous detail to restoring it to it's original condition..down to the point of going out and physically hunting down all of the original furniture and decor. Now you can stand in the studio and hold a picture of Skynrd doing an interview and look around...the studio is exactly the same... I've seen grown men, session players and songwriters from that era walk into the studio now and physically shed tears! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL THING!!! Noel has done a great service to the city to preserve the studio and that place in Alabama's history!
- keith Hill, Decatur, AL
The unnofficial anthem for the south? Yeah, it's good, but if there's an "anthem" song for these states, I'd say "Proud Mary" (I know, a li¡l bit cliché, but even out of the US, the people relates more the CCR song with the south than "Sweet Home Alabama")
- Antonio, Monterrey, Mexico
Im an Alabamian, and I love this song just not much as "Free Bird". This song is played so many times it not funny. Also this song has become the unoffical anthem of the south, unoffical state song of alabama, and the unoffical fight song of the "Crimson Tide". Most people dont get the "Swampers" line...It refers to the early years mainly 1971 and 1972 where they record thier 1st album(unreleased though). All the band members have said that thats where the band learned how to play well. Gary Rossington that "Even though where from Jacksonville, Florida...but the "Swampers" taught us so much i think are whole sound it from Muscle Shoals, Alabama". thats that line the others are easy to understand..."Montgomery got the answer"- Ronniw thought thats where the answer lay in Montgomery...one more thing the famous line "Turn it Up"- Kooper smartly chose to keep it- Ronnie was requesting the volume to be turned up in the headphones....though now it used to turn the whole music up...ROLL TIDE, and "Fly on Free Bird"
- Darden, montgomery, AL
"We all did what we could do" seems to be saying that not everyone in Alabama supported Wallace's segregationist policies. Maybe a little bit of plausible deniability? I guess it depends what you think the song is trying to say. It really can be taken two ways, either you trust Southern life or you don't. That's why this song gets folks so fired up.
- Brian, Providence, RI
In the song Sweet home alabama, when the lyric, Boo, Boo, Boo, is sung, what is this in referance to, the lyric that follows is "we all did what we could do". how does this tie into governer Wallace?
- Thomas, Southgate, MI
I am a musician, and a Skynyrd fanatic. Over the years I have worked with or around most of the guys in the band, (after the crash). Allen Collins was a personal friend of mine, and taught me a heap of what I know on guitar. I really miss him.
When I read some of the comments here I had to giggle. Opinions are like eyes, everyone has them.
The facts are as follows:
Ed King compossed ALL the music for this song, ( the band members even complained that the lead guitar part was in the wrong key). Why is beyond me. It seems to fit. Major and relative minors and all that, I guess.
Ronnie wrote the lyrics as a satire while on the road from Muscle Shoals to his home in Jacksonville Fl.
The reference to Neil Yong's "Southern Man" was a stick in the ribs, but it was done in fun. Allen said they laughed about it for years afterward. Although they never met, there was a mutual respect between these artists. I cannot comment on any of Young's songs or his reasons for them, but I do know that Ronnie liked his songs and respected his talents as a writter/performer.
His reference to the Governor was "Boo, Boo, Boo". How can anyone relate that to promoting Wallace's actions or beliefs? Ronnie hated the stigma the Alabama Governor had created and intended for this song to relate that to the listener. Along with all the other excesses of the Americian Government. "Watergate does not bother me,"(because he didn't cause it or create it), "does YOUR conscience bother YOU?" He wants you to think about your personal feelings about your own actions, not those of someone you have no control over.
The "Swampers" was, and still is a fantastic group of studio musicians deriving from the R&B days at "Fame" in the 60's. I know most of them. Great bunch of guys.
The last recorded words of the song are hard to make out but Ronnie actually says,
"Aw, Montgomery's got the answer". Even I didn't know that until I heard Leon tell it to a reporter in a radio interview sometime in 1998.
The myth of the T'shirt is just that. A myth. Although I was not at the funeral I understand that he was burried in a suit, no tie. With his hat in his hands. And yes, I do know where he is currently burried. So it's not a secret. I went there with Judy, (his wife), Allen and Gary a few times back in the day.
Just as an aside, not everyone in Alabama are rednecks but those of us that are, are very proud of it and do not really care what anyone else thinks about it. But just so you know, redneck doesn't mean stupid, ignorant or racist. It means that we have a heritige of hard work, family and GOD.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was and is for the working man, the little guy. The backbone of this country. Please stop trying to make something out of nothing.
I hope this clears up the confusion.
Thanks for taking the time to read it.
Sincerely,
Mike, from Gulf Shores, Al.
- Mike, Gulf Shores, AL
Because nobody ever wrote a song about Kentucky... also, I love this song. I feel this song has always been underappreciated because it has been used in movies/commercials/movie commercials etc., but it is a great song with some good guitar and deep lyrics.
- Max, Laguna Niguel, CA
Can someone explain to me why KENTUCKY Fried Chicken uses Sweet Home ALABAMA for their theme music ?
- scutter, Harrisonburg, VA
neil young wrote southern man about southern hilly billys that raped blacks an beat them an burn them on crosses,also Ronnie van zant hated that song because his father was a hilly billy that beat his mother when they where kids,thats why Van zant rode the song about simple man because his mother never weanted him to end up like his father. years later neil young wrote the song walk away, read the lyric in it he says your mama was a nice one while your dada was a southern man
- kevin, dublin, Ireland
Am I wrong or Madonna used the initial chords of this song as a sample for her "What it feels like for a girl"?
- Joao, Lisbon, Portugal
This is #398 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
- Ross, Independence, MO
Can you believe this band is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Talk about narrow minded and petty! Please go to Charlie Daniels' website and sign the petition to put Lynyrd Skynyrd in their rightful place, not just for fhis song, but for "Freebird", "Simple Man", "That Smell" and other songs too numerous to mention,.
Incidently, Warren Zevon pays tribute to this song in "Play It All Night Long". There is no mention of any "feud" the band had with Zevon, so they must have accepted the humor of it.
- Jude, Thomasville, GA
Ronnie was nto burried in a Neil Young Tee-Shirt. You guys need to watch Much More Music up in Canadia . As everyone knows teh 3 dead members graves were vandalised and after that moved to a location which was unannounced. The vandalising was an attempt to see if the rumor was true. His wife admitted he wasn'r burried in a Neil Young Tee-Shirt. I can't remember what she said he was burried in. Although I was I lived in the states. I do believe this song is a great American song.
- Mike, Winnipeg, Canada
Anyone else hear the rumor that Ronnie was buried in a Neil Young t-shirt?
- Matt, Millbrae, CA
Since this this song takes a few swipes at Neil Young, I wonder if the line, "Watergate does not bother me" is a response to Neil Youngs anti-war and anti-Nixon songs? (Nixon's gone and we are finally on our own)
- Martin, Santa Monica, CA
Martin, The "Swampers" were a group of studio musicians, from a famous studioin Muscle Shoals, Alabama, who helped Skynyrd record their first albumn. Since Skynyrd at that time was basically a "honkey tonk" band meaning they played live music in small bars and venues. They needed alot of help by the "swampers" to teach them the ropes of recording in a studio.
- Martin, Santa Monica, CA
ok, folks, i lived in the muscle shoals area during the time that lynard skinard was popular. i also met members of the band. swampers was a night club in muscle shoals, on 2nd street. actually, it was in sheffield, not muscle shoals. that was the reference made in the song. i even went there.
- melonie, florence, AL
"Sweet Home" was actually written completely as a joke. The band was from Florida, and from what Rossington said in a Guitar World interview a few years back, they wrote the tune on the road while they were travelling through Alabama...The song started out poking fun at Alabama, which explains the George Wallace references. Complete sarcasm.
- Steve, Louisville, KY

Steve, please the facts before you say crap like that. Ronnie Van Zant actually liked george wallaces ideas not on racial stuff but on others matters.
He song was actually about the muscle studios. no they didn't live there but it was like their second home. yes alabama is beatiful
- John, Mobile, AL
I am 100% Alabamian. I am not a red neck. everyone thinks that everyone from Alabama is a hick. but thats not true. ALOt people think that lynyrd skynyrd is raceist because of the rebel flag but there not so dont say they Are!
- John, Mobile, AL
This song is pretty good but they have way better songs like Simple kind of man and freebird but everyone to their own opinion, overall Lynyrd Skynrd rock my jocks and it was a tragedy that 3 died in that horrible plane crash, that was a bad day in history...
- Sarah, Colac, Australia
To answer an earlier question, by 1974 George Wallace had changed his ways and was by then a proponent of racial harmony. He apologized for earlier segregationist stands, appointed many black people to prominent state positions and even started to win the black vote when he ran for re-election. That, and the 1972 assassanation attempt which left him in a wheelchair, made Wallace a sympathetic figure in Alabama.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
The Swampers produce the music.
I like this song and yes it's(to me) our Southern National Anthem... But my favorite song by them is "Comin' Home".
- Megan, Ozark, AL
i heard about that rumor also matt.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
Theres a rumor that Ronnie Van Zant was buried in his Neil Young t-shirt
- Matt, Millbrae, CA
I think that this song is a good song. This is very good it is very original.
- Jordan, Allegan, MI
By the way, "Simple Man" is my favorite Skynyrd song. A lot of those songs are played on the radio to much though.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
O by the way, on the cover of the "street survivors" album there is apparently a pictore on Ronnie VanSant wearing a Neil Young t-shirt. Go figure on that one, huh.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
dave. I think a'Alabama" was written before "Sweet Home Alabama" was released. 'aAlabamaa' was on Neil young's album "Harvest' which was released in 1972, while the album that "Sweet Home Alabama" was on was released in 1973. How would Neil Young have written "Alabama' in response to "Sweet Home Alabam". I think you got it backwards. "swett Home Alabama" was partially written as a response to "Alabama", but for the most part, it was a response to "Southern Man".
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
To answer Barbara, he is saying (as an adlib) "MawwwwntGOM-UH-REE's got the answer!" (Montgomery's got the answer). Classic song, but not their best. A satire on Alabama, a dedication to Muscle Shoals, a song about traveling home (to Florida) -- it's one of those songs that just is and people read too much into it... sorta like an inside joke, but thanks to the band for letting us in on secrets.
- Jesse, Atlanta, GA
To Ryan, Mobile, AL

Sorry Ryan - I'm a native Alabamian and I believe "My Home's In Alabama" (by the country group ALABAMA) has probably replaced "Sweet Home" as the preferred state song. I've also heard Jeff Cook (of the group ALABAMA) play "Sweet Home", live, with his new group, the Allstar Goodtime Band. Very nice. Very nice.
- Ginger, Madison, AL
I was born in Yankee-ville from immigrant Italian parents. When I was 18, I left home and have lived below the Mason/Dixon line ever since.
I know that L.S. has better songs, but I always considered Sweet Home Alabama to be one of the offical southern national anthems of rock (along with 'Freebird', The Band's 'The Night They Drove Dixie Down', Molly Hatchet's 'Gator Country' and 'Green Grass and High Tides' by the Outlaws.)
- Anthony, Clearwater, FL
in response to billy ,from pa you must remember that the entire persona of the nation has changed since the 1970's and remember that mr. wallace also did some very good thing for the state of alabama and its residents the song is not praising him for the particular act you mentioned but for the good that he did
- jim, baileyton, AK
Ed King claims he dreamt the entire solo, note for note. Sounds far fetched. Was a killer song before radio killed it. Skynyrd will always be #1 in my book.
- Brian, Phoenix, AZ
Does anyone know the piano notes for the very last part? I'd love to the learn it.
- John, Flanders, NJ
In response to Nader from NC, I bleed crimson. Sweet Home, as we often call it, is not my favorite Skynyrd song (that would be Simple Man) but it is probably the state of Alabama's favorite song. I think it should be made the official state song :-) but some other song that says "aye" a lot is already official state song. Some person slaughtered the song on American Idol. I hope he never sets foot on Alabama soil. Something bad might happen.
- Ryan, Mobile, AL
Sweet Home Alabama is 1 of my favorite songs in the world. I think everyone likes it. Its a good song. I hope you keep writing songs like that.
I LOVE YOU
- Farryn, Bonners Ferry, ID
Roll Tide =) Great song
- Nader, Durham, NC
in reference to billy from pa...what were they thinking when they said "they love the governor"..if you listen closely or read the lyrics they sing Boo Boo Boo afterwards...im sure that quote was a sarcastic remark...
- Laurie, Farmington, NY
SOme people mention 'Freebird' as a better song than SHA. Freebird goes on too long. Sweet Home Alabama kills you from the get go and knows when to stop. Big wheels keep on turnin'! And anyway, Neil Young blows these guys away.....
- Peter, Toronto, Canada
I could be wrong...but wasn't Governor George Wallace the racist idiot who called in the National Guard to stop Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historic March on Selma? It helped to raise awareness about voting rights for African-Americans and eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. LBJ actually had to have the army go in and oust the National Guard. What was Skynyrd thinking putting him in their song?
- Billy, Pittsburgh, PA
"My dad was in the Coast Guard when the plane crashed. His cutter was one of the first on the scene of the crash"... Dustin, you may want to check with your Dad again and make sure he was on "One" of the "Cutters" that were on the scene of the crash. The reason being, is that there aren't any Coast Guard Cutter navigable waters within 150 miles of the crash site(8 miles South of the McComb,MS airport). There was however, a Coast Guard helicopter on the scene during the search and rescue phase. Lynn
- Lynn, Brookhaven,MS
This song is featured in the Forrest Gump soundtrack, among other famous songs.
- Antonio, Orlando, FL
i'm with reed. *rolls eyes* i live in south georgia and i hear this song approximately fifteen times each day.
- jackson, waycross, GA
well, in my humble opinion, this is the most overrated and overplayed song in rock history
- Reed, Hagerstown, IN
If you look up the 500 Greatest Classic Rock songs on the About.com network, this song is listed as number 284, which does not serve justice in my opinion.
- Cody, new york city, NY
Oddly enough, the Lynyrd Skynyrd version was never used in the movie-there were two or three other versions, but never Skynyrd's.
- Brady, Fort Stockton, TX
I have the CD "Freebird: The Movie (Selections from the Original Soundtrack)." The version on that album was recorded at the Knebworth Fair in England. At Knebworth, I think Ronnie said "Mr. Carter got the answer!" instead of the usual Montgomery line.

Sweet Home Alabama is a good song, but Lynyrd Skynyrd is unjustly known for it. Many people only know this song and they believe Lynyrd Skynyrd is a good ole boy redneck band. They need to hear more Skynyrd classics.
- Jon, Sunnyvale, CA
This song is ok, but not as good as some of their others. Also, it is featured in the new version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre when 4 teenagers are on their way to a L.S concert, they are listening to this song...its kinda spooky
- Shana, Pembroke, Canada
"Sweet Home" was actually written completely as a joke. The band was from Florida, and from what Rossington said in a Guitar World interview a few years back, they wrote the tune on the road while they were travelling through Alabama...The song started out poking fun at Alabama, which explains the George Wallace references. Complete sarcasm.
- Steve, Louisville, KY
I made a record, myself, at Fame Recording Studio in 1977. I was trying to bring back Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold". It didn't get popular, though. On the flip side was a religous song called "One Day At A Time". I recorded this song for my grandmother because it was her favorite. She died in 1980 and I'm really glad I did this! Anyway, the record wasn't played very much on the radio because it didn't have a BMI number on it, which was something I didn't know anything about at the time. It was a great experience, though, and Fame is a great studio! By the way, my name is "Kathy Jones" and I'm from Jasper, Alabama, which is about an hour and a half drive from Muscle Shoals. I've often wondered what Neil Young would think if he heard me singing his song and he knew I was from Alabama (ha!ha!)!
- Kathy, Jasper, AL
This song will always be tied to Neil Young's "Southern Man" and Neil Young will always be tied to California culture, although he originally came from Canada. During the sixties, as we in California watched the Civil Rights demonstrations; we were shocked and ashamed at what white people were doing. So many things happened so fast. In those days, most of us didn't know that even in California,as recently as 1911, the state was paying $5 a head for dead Indians. We thought we were blameless. The LA police and the Zoot suit riots weren't in the news... Here, the racial thing was more low key and the war was the issue...I'm sure Neil has learned it's a human thing and not a southern thing since then and it's about hating the sin and not the sinner...
- Mike, Berkeley, CA
Neil Young did later wrote a reply of his own (entitled "Alabama") - not quite as scathing as "Southern Man", but it does suggest that he wanted the last word in the war of words between himself and Lynyrd Skynyrd, so perhaps there was some degree of hostility in their 'feud'

"Sweet Home Alabama" was their biggest hit chartwise around the world, but, in the UK, the band were in fact better remembered for the fabulous "Freebird".
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
My dad was in the Coast Guard when the plane crashed. His cutter was one of the first on the scene of the crash
- Dustin, Tampa, FL
"The Swampers" are actually better known as The Muscle Shoals Rythm Section. As correctly stated they did play on numerous soul and later rock recordings here in Muscle Shoals. They started at Fame, then later opened their own studio. "The Swampers" name came from Leon Russell. They were backing him up at a show, and he introduced them as the "Swampers". The name stuck with Ronnie Van Zandt.
- Tracy, Muscle Shoals, AL
Quote from the 1997 film Con Air a character
Garland Greene played by actor Steve Buscemi make the the statement - "Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash." while this song (SHA) is playing.

The plane that crashed (Oct. 20, 1977 was the model Convair 240.
- Mike, Mountlake Terrace, WA
The fued between Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd wasn't always good natured. A few years after Ronnie Van Zant died, Neil Young fanatics vandalized his grave.
- Derek, Raleigh, NC
My uncle was very close with Ronnie, and he relayed a sad tidbit of LS info to me; Some fans took the LS/Neil Young beef very seriously, and actually ransacked his grave in an attempt to prove or disprove a rumor that Ronnie had been buried in a Neil Young T-shirt, which was of course, not true. (his mother would never allow him to be buried in a T-shirt, cmon) Incidently, they never caught the grave robbers.
- Jennie, Jacksonville, FL
Yes, Muscle Shoals does have the Swampers. "The Swampers" is a nickname given to the group of studio musicans that played on many recordings at different studios in Muscle Shoals. They were often requested because they played so well as a group. I was raised there, about a half mile from Fame Recording Studio where the band recorded. My dad's business was on Avalon Avenue, the same street as Fame Recording Studio. Most every day I rode past it to the post office. We always looked to see who's bus was out front so we'd know who was recording.
- Susan, Muscle Shoals, AL
Sad that this song is their most famous, and is deinetly not their best. Sorry, it's an ok song, but pales in comparison to "Freebird", "Tuesday's Gone", and "Gimme Three Steps"
- Brian, Paoli, IN
My name is Jennifer and im one true, 100% Alabamian.
I am not a red neck. everyone thinks that everyone from
Alabama is a hick but hey, Sweet Home Alabama proves that
there is actually normal people here and that it is the most beautiful
state in the Union. ITS CALLED "ALABAMA THE BEAUTIFUL" for a dam reason
- Jennifer, Dothan, AL
The last line in the song is an ad-lib by Van Zant that is rarely understood. He says, "Montgomery got the answer". Some of the original band members revealed this in a radio interview a few years back.
- John, Charlotte, NC
Jewel did a cover of the song and it was featured in the movie Sweet Home Alabama and is on the soundtrack. Her version of it ROCKS!!!!!
- shawn, loganville, GA
There is a line in the song that can't be made out very well, saying something like "My daddy told me so......." and I can't make out the rest, if that is even what he is saying!! Can anyone help me out?? I would really appreciate it!!
- Barbara, Washington, DC
Who (or what) are the Swampers, mentioned
in the lyric? "now Muscle Shoals has got the
Swampers"
- Martin, Lodz, Poland
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