How Neil Young Snubbed Lynyrd Skynyrd

How Neil Young Snubbed Lynyrd Skynyrd | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Neil Young in an interview, 2005 - Team Coco / Youtube

In a recent interview with, Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Johnny Van Zant reignited a decades-old musical conversation.

“Sweet Home Alabama”, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song, famously references Neil Young’s “Southern Man”, sparking a playful back-and-forth about the South’s identity. While the interview highlighted Lynyrd Skynyrd’s enduring respect for Young’s music, a surprising revelation emerged: despite their admiration, the two bands never crossed paths.

Van Zant’s answer about a potential meeting hints at a missed opportunity for a historic collaboration between rock and roll titans.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Reached Out to Neil Young

In the recent interview, Van Zant discussed the band’s long-standing appreciation for Neil Young’s music. This comes as no surprise, considering their most famous song references Young’s “Southern Man.”

However, the interview unearthed an interesting fact. Despite their admiration, Van Zant revealed that the two bands have never met. He even shared that Lynyrd Skynyrd once extended an invitation to tour together.

“We actually put the word out,” Van Zant said, “We said, hey, let’s go play some shows. But we never heard back from it, so maybe he doesn’t like us as good as we like him.” He ended the statement with a laugh, leaving the true nature of their relationship open to interpretation.

A Musical Feud and an Unexpected Apology

The 1970s saw a musical back-and-forth between Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd, sparked by Young’s social commentary on the South. Songs like “Southern Man” and “Alabama” were perceived by some as critical of the entire region. Lynyrd Skynyrd took aim at these criticisms in their iconic anthem “Sweet Home Alabama”.

The song included the line, “I hope Neil Young will remember a Southern man doesn’t need him around, anyhow,” seemingly taking Young to task. Interestingly, Young’s perspective shifted over time. In his 2012 biography, Waging Heavy Peace, he offered an apology.

Young acknowledged that “Alabama” deserved Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response and admitted his own lyrics were “accusatory and condescending.” He recognized that his earlier songs may have been “too easy to misconstrue.”

A Song, a Feud, and a Peace Offering

Despite his initial apology, Neil Young didn’t seem to take Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response in “Sweet Home Alabama” too seriously. In a 1995 interview with Mojo Magazine, he downplayed any animosity, saying, “Oh, they didn’t really put me down!”

He even acknowledged the song’s quality, stating, “Shoot, I think ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ is a great song”. Young even went a step further, revealing he had performed the song live himself a couple of times.

Following the release of the iconic Lynyrd Skynyrd hit, it appears a reconciliation occurred. Young, perhaps in a sign of good humor, sent a demo of his song “Powderfinger” to Lynyrd Skynyrd with the intention of them recording it.

Sadly, this musical bridge never materialized. Ronnie Van Zant and other members of Lynyrd Skynyrd tragically died in a plane crash before they could record “Powderfinger” for their next album.