The most recognized song in the USA?

The song Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd has been in more movies than Clint Howard.  Why?*

*You must understand that when I ask “why?”, it’s not sarcastic or smarmy.  I’m not saying, “It’s a crap song, so WHY would it be in so many movies?”  I’m saying, “What is it about this song that draws?”

I’m not a big country music fan.  For the sake of pop culture, of course, I’ve heard quite a bit of it.  I do live below the Mason-Dixon line after all, but with skyscrapers on three sides of the building I live in, I’d hardly call myself rural.  However, I do like most southern rock, and while Sweet Home Alabama is a bit more twangy than most southern rock, I wouldn’t feel bad about telling you that it’s on my top 100 list of favorite songs ever.  Maybe even in the top 50.

It starts off with a guitar riff that is easily one of the most recognized melodies ever; love it or hate it, you recognize it.  Then, Ronnie Van Zant literally commands his audience to “turn it up”.  I always do.  Out of respect, of course; the man asked me to do something, I’m not just going to ignore him!  Funnily enough, “turn it up” was never actually meant to be part of the song.  Ronnie was asking his producer and engineer to turn up his headphones’ volume so he could hear the track better.  The rest is history.

Another fun fact:  at around 56 seconds into the song, you can hear producer Al Kooper doing his best impression of Neil Young’s Southern Man, ever so faintly in the left channel.  Apparently, this is just another instance of the crew goofing off in the studio.  Gotta love hidden lyrics!

Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” does a good job of paying homage to the Skynyrd classic without it being a remake/refake.  It’s somewhere in between and really sums up ideals and emotions that a lot of people that grew up listening to Sweet Home Alabama can identify with.  Good job, Kid.

Sweet Home Alabama will always be a song that reminds me of good times.  If I hear it when I’m down in the dumps, I can’t help but smile.  And until I’m dead or deaf, I’ll always “turn it up”.

-T. Ham


One thought on “The most recognized song in the USA?

  1. If you have never heard it, check out the mash up of Nelly’s Country Grammar with Sweet Home Alabama. It’s almost sacrligeous to a Southern Man, but since I am just North of the Manson Nixon line I am free from shame on this one.

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