So naturally my favorite film sub-genres are vigilante and rape-revenge, and many of my favorite songs are “f-you’s.”
“Sweet Home Alabama” is the Vatican of rock songs, an exponentially superior structure built upon the bones of its defeated enemies.
The only reason anyone still remembers Neil Young’s whiny dirge (but I repeat myself) “Southern Man” is because it pissed off the Van Zants so much they called him out on it in their epic, unforgettable anthemic answer song:
Well I heard mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don’t need him around anyhow
Like many Canadians of his (and my) era, Neil Young had an anti-American (and specifically, anti-southern) streak a kilometer wide.
Unlike them, what he didn’t have was an excuse.
As a well-travelled musician of renown, Young knew for a fact that everybody in the South wasn’t a racist hick. But so what? He figured “Some of my best friends aren’t Klansman” wasn’t a lucrative song concept, especially in 1970.
By the way: the “controversy” surrounding the “governor” lines has always baffled me. The Southern singer is simply declaring that he feels no more collective guilt about Jim Crow than any Northern liberal would or should feel about Watergate. Duh.
The depressing thing about this whole story is that everybody’s friends now. Blech.