496. Darkening of the light (X)
The other day I noticed that Neil Young had decided to blackmail Spotify; he said that if the Joe Rogan show continued to be featured on Spotify he would withdraw all his music from the platform. I noted that this showed Neil Young has no “heart of gold”—being the only Neil Young song I know, “Heart of Gold”—because this was blackmail and manipulation, very unmanly and weaselly. Later in the day I decided to listen to “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and I noticed that the album this song appears on—Second Helping—features a great many esoteric symbols. I then checked the lyrics for “Sweet Home Alabama”, since I knew these to be pro-Nixon. The song’s second verse—here synchronicity struck—chastises Neil Young; it seems that Lynyrd Skynyrd noticed that Young has no “heart of gold” decades ago.
In particular, the song chastises Young for a song he penned called “Alabama” that was all about how Alabamans are a bunch of KKK racist killas—et cetera, et cetera, and so on ad infinitum. Hence the second verse: “Well I heard Mister Young sing about her / Well I heard ol’ Neil put her down / Well I hope Neil will remember / A southern man don’t need him around anyhow.” So the song defends the homeland, as the song’s second line says: “Carry me home to see my kin.”
The song continues: “In Birmingham they love the governor (boo-hoo-hoo).” This is a reference to Wallace, then Governor and a notable segregationist—the song mentions Birmingham first, not the state capital Montgomery, because it is a specific reference to various civil rights shenanigans (MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail). The “boo-hoo-hoo” is sung in a slightly mocking voice—it personifies insincere Northern liberals weeping crocodile tears over how much those awful Alabamans love their Governor.
The song continues: “Now Watergate does not bother me / Does your conscience bother you? / Tell the truth.” At the time, Nixon was in hot water over Watergate; defiantly, Skynyrd refuses to bow to liberal hysteria about Nixon and turns the question round: “Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth”. The suggestion is that the liberals who hound Nixon and the Alabamans are insincere hypocrites who have not examined their own consciences, hence Skynyrd is not concerned with their phoney protests over Watergate (the Democrats did just the same, anyway).
The album art itself contains many esoteric themes: the band are captured in cells formed from Pythagorean tetraktys—the numerical building blocks of the cosmos, intimately connected to music. Heaven is reputedly cellular—a honeycomb—and this theme appears in many artworks; for example, in Nabokov’s Pale Fire—“cells within cells within cells” (later used in Blade Runner 2049). So the band are depicted in Heaven—in the righteous harmony of sound, in the honeyed cells. Further, a rainbow runs over the top; the rainbow is the ark—half of the ark, anyway—and so links Heaven and Earth; a rainbow beneath completes the Cosmic Egg. Finally, the entire album cover is set in a square similar to the type typically used to “square the circle”, a symbolic representation of wholeness—a geometry often deployed for mandalas.
To return to the lyrics for the finale, the last verse runs: “Sweet home (oh, sweet home) / Where the skies are so blue / And the Governor’s true / Sweet home Alabama (lordy) / Lord I’m comin’ home to you, yeah, yeah / Montgomery’s got the answer”. Put simply: Governor Wallace is a true man; a true man in the sense that Nietzsche would have appreciated, a sound man—he rings true. Segregation is divinely appointed and the band celebrates their kin and homeland. Finally, Montgomery, the state capital, has the answer—not Washington, the Federal capital which seeks to impose integration on Alabama with violence. In conclusion, this Lynyrd Skynyrd album contains many esoteric themes associated with righteousness, segregation being divinely appointed—and liberals being hypocrites.