Sunday, October 30, 2005


If you're any sort of music anorak, you'll probably know about the musical "argument" that Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd had in the 70s on the subject of the Southern states of the US. Neil Young wrote "Southern Man", in which he sang: "I saw cotton and I saw black/Tall white mansions and little shacks/Southern man when will you pay them back?/I heard screaming and bullwhips cracking/How long? How long?" Pretty passionate stuff.
Skynyrd decided they'd reply to this blast in their own idiom, so they created "Sweet Home Alabama": "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." To his eternal credit, Neil Young enjoyed the response and said it was a better song than his.
Now that was a polite exchange of views. But how is anyone supposed to respond to this? "We got no-necked oilmen from Texas/And good ol' boys from Tennessee/And college men from LSU/Went in dumb, come out dumb too/Hustlin' 'round Atlanta in their alligator shoes/Gettin' drunk every weekend at the barbecues." Randy Newman really doesn't leave a lot of room for a snappy retort in whatever he writes. He ups the agenda to the point where the soft-skinned liberal politically-correct folk get so aerated they can't even formulate a decent reply: "We're rednecks, we're rednecks/We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground/We're rednecks, we're rednecks/We're keeping the niggers down." The southern folks just go a deeper shade of red and put another couple of Dixie flags on the front porch. Meanwhile the rest of the world gets a belly laugh out of the whole thing.

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