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Couplings (Vol. Three)

3 comments on Couplings (Vol. Three)


So I can argue against one sentence in particular, I offer in the next paragraph text from Ron O’Brien’s liner notes to the CD All Time Greatest Hits by Lynyrd Sknyrd:

“’Sweet Home Alabama,’ Skynyrd’s first Top 10 hit, heralded nothing less than the emergence of a ‘New South.’ It chided rock icon Neil Young for his outdated portrayal of the old Jim Crow South in ‘Southern Man’ and ‘Alabama’ and ‘boo, boo, booed’ segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace. Van Zant’s boast that ‘Watergate does not bother me’ foreshadowed the rising tide of Populism and mirrored a corresponding rise in cynicism about the Federal government. The song was released as a single in the Summer of 1974, taking off like a rocket after President Richard Nixon’s resignation.”

This band chided Neil Young, huh? The year 1974 was only 11 years after the four African-American girls were killed while attending church services in “Bombingham,” Alabama. The year 1974 is only 10 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. There was a long history of discrimination to address. Why would any listener to Young’s song in his or her right mind proceed to stereotype all Southerners with one broad racist brushstroke? Clearly, that would not be fair or just. But why was racism so deeply stained in the fabric of that state? In 1974 I was glad to hear that the band took what stand they did against George Wallace. But the line about Watergate didn’t make sense to me then, and it makes no sense now. Was Van Zant suggesting that he couldn’t stop George Wallace but Neil Young couldn’t stop Watergate? Watergate should have bothered Van Zant at that time; it should have bothered every American citizen. Alabama was a state affair (until actions there were so abhorrent that federal troops had to intervene). Watergate and the Nixon presidency was a national affair, and the people of Alabama are every bit as responsible for what happens in D.C. (their federal government) as the people in any other state in the union. And after all, Neil Young came from Canada. He speaks in his song, and with good reason, as a citizen of the world.

I enjoy these couplings I've presented here. However, in the brilliant catalog created by the masterful Paul McCartney, "Another Day" has never struck me as one of his best.

 
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