Friday, September 30, 2022

Neil Young, Harvest (1972)

This is a great album, one of the all-time greats.

It contains the hits "Heart of Gold," "Old Man," "The Needle and the Damage Done," and one of my favorites, "Alabama."

The chorus of "Alabama" has the refrain, "Alabama, you've got the weight of the world on your shoulders." It's funny to me that this song was the final straw that made Lynyrd Skynyrd canonically hate Neil Young. It was in response to this song and Neil's previous "Southern Man" that Skynyrd responded with "Sweet Home Alabama."

It might come off as heresy to say this, but if I had to live in a world that only had the music of Skynyrd in it or the music of the great Neil Young, I'd choose Neil. Fortunately, I don't have to choose.

I will say one thing more, though, about the feud. When Skynyrd attacked old Neil, either they were doing it because they were racist or stupid or both. They just didn't understand him. Yes, old Neil put Alabama down. But as Neil explained years later, he was not attacking the people of Alabama but a whole racist Southern mindset. Alabama was just the placeholder. (Don't get me wrong, I think Skynyrd'd be even more offended by that answer.) Furthermore, when Neil was preaching against the "Southern man" in his song, he was talking very specifically (it's right there in the lyrics) about the widespread attacks on, and murder of, black people.

So all I got to say, El Bando Skynyrdo, is you put one line against Neil in your song, all right, I'd say you're probably operating purely out of ignorance, however genius you all are as musicians. But two? "A Southern man don't need him around anyhow"? Are you talking about the racists he's militating against? And then to add insult to injury, you go and put that line in that says, "In Birmingham we love the governor." You mean that racist governor?

To quote one of my favorite philosophers, "Fool me once, shame on... shame on... you—if you fool me, we can't get fooled again."

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