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Neil Young vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd: una battle rock fra titani

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Neil Young fotografato da Mark Seliger

«Alabama, you got
the weight on your shoulders
that’s breaking your back
your Cadillac
has got a wheel in the ditch
and a wheel on the track»

(Alabama, hai tutto
il peso sulle spalle
che ti sta rompendo la schiena
la tua Cadillac
ha una ruota nel fosso
e una ruota sulla strada)

Alabama 

Nel 1972 il songwriter canadese Neil Young pubblicò uno degli album più celebri della sua carriera, Harvest, vera e propria pietra miliare del country rock. Composto da ballate acustiche vagamente autobiografiche, il disco è imperniato su tematiche come i valori familiari, la vecchiaia, la droga e il razzismo. Quest’ultimo è il tema centrale della canzone ‘Alabama’, in cui il rocker denuncia apertamente l’intolleranza dilagante nel sud degli Stati Uniti nei confronti degli afroamericani e le mostruosità commesse dal Ku Klux Klan, all’epoca non ancora scomparso del tutto. Emerge nella canzone l’immagine di una società ancora fortemente sudista, paralizzata su valori discutibili e incapace di evolversi in senso positivo.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd

Un’ accusa pesante e che non ha dovuto attendere molto la smentita da parte dei diretti interessati, rappresentati dalla band southern rock dei Lynyrd Skynyrd. Una smentita in musica, ovviamente. «I hope Neil Young will remember a Southern man don’t need him around anyhow» (“Spero che Neil Young si ricordi che un uomo del sud non ha nessun bisogno di lui da queste parti “), cantava nel ’74 Ronnie Van Zant, per comunicare l’orgoglio di appartenere alla sua Alabama, espresso fin dal titolo stesso della canzone (“Sweet Home Alabama ”, appunto): questa infatti, oltre ad esser stata consacrata come il brano ‘on the road’ per eccellenza, esprime la nostalgia di questa terra e la gioia di potervi tornare, perché «il cielo è così blu ed il governo è vero».

Un ‘botta e risposta’ di risonanza mondiale, che ha creato un vero e proprio caso intorno ai due brani, alimentato nei decenni dagli stessi protagonisti: molto garbatamente, Young si è detto un grande fan della canzone dei Lynyrd Skynyrd ed orgoglioso di essere menzionato nella stessa; dal canto suo Van Zant, durante alcuni live, ha interpretato Sweet Home Alabama con indosso una T-shirt del cantautore canadese.  Insomma un fair play musicale che ha avuto la sua lodevole conclusione solo un anno fa, con una dichiarazione di Young inserita nella biografia ‘Il sogno di un hippie ’: «La mia canzone Alabama si è largamente meritata la stoccata che mi diedero i Lynyrd Skynyrd con quel loro grande disco. Quando la sento oggi, non mi piace il testo. È accusatorio e susseguioso, non pienamente ponderato e troppo facile da fraintendere».

Uno a zero per gli Skynyrd.

(A.C.)

Alabama, di Neil Young:

Sweet Home Alabama, la risposta dei Lynyrd Skynyrd:

scritto da:

Annachiara Chezzi

Laureata in Scienze della Comunicazione e specializzata in Gestione delle Attività Turistiche e Culturali, è creatrice ed articolista di Cult Stories. La sua innata curiosità la spinge a non accontentarsi di nuotare in superficie e a voler approfondire gli argomenti che tratta.

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Scrivi all'autore: Annachiara Chezzi