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Issue 53 - The beautiful South?

Whisky Magazine Issue 53
January 2006


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The beautiful South?

Lew Guthrie III on Southern Rock Opera by Drive-By Truckers – an epic concept album on the life and times of Lynyrd Skynyrd

Being a heavy rock fans has always presented a moral dilemma for anyone with a social conscience. Too often chauvinistic or downright sexist, politically insensitive and sometimes reactionary and right wing, metal and its sub-genres were particularly held up to ridicule in the late 70s when politically aware punks attempted to sweep them aside.

Many of us positively welcomed the political posturings of the likes of The Clash, Elvis Costello, and Tom Robinson, but didn't like the music. And we felt uncomfortable with the more extreme elements of hard rock but lived for that next guitar solo.

And in America the problem was at its most acute. First Lynyrd Skynyrd, and then Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot and 38 Special swaggered out of the South wrapped in confederate flags and not only refused to apologise for being white, working class and Southern, but glorified it, putting the nose of Liberal sensibilities well and truly out of joint.

Neil Young even wrote two songs about the attitudes of the South, earning himself the Lynyrd Skynyrd riposte in Sweet Home Alabama: “Well I heard Mr 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.” Drive By Truckers grew up with this backdrop: fiercely proud of their southern roots, surrounded by good honest God-fearing folk and brought up to understand southern hospitality. But at the same time they rejected separatism, segregation and the bigotry of ...

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