Whose Home Alabama?

I would hum “Sweet Home Alabama,” having a great longing for hometown where I have never been. This bittersweet southern anthem always reminds me of Foster’s Alabama in “Oh Susanna,” which I learned at school and sometimes hummed in my childhood. The American nostalgia had never left me alone for a long time. Fortunately the sticky leech falls apart at last after I read through the song written by Ed King, Gary Rossington, and Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I felt guilty when I recognized that “Sweet Home Alabama” had a viewpoint of racist. In an interview with Ronnin Van Zant, he said that they wrote it as a joke. A joke? He should have told it to Robert Zemeckis, before he used it in “Forrest Gump.” Anyway it is a revengeful song of Neil Young’s “Southern Man,” which attacked the southerners literally. In “Sweet Home Alabama” they even sing, “they love the gov’nor … And the guv’nor’s true…” A Governer, George C. Wallace. It was the Governor who said, “… and I say … segregation today … segregation tomorrow … segregation forever” in the 1963 Inaugural Address of Montgomery, Alabama. It is the Alabama I had missed whenever I hummed! I was an dumb McDonald maniac who hated America’s Imperialism.

It can be somewhat easier to find symbolic violence, signifier, or hegemony in images than in sounds. Even though it is not actually that easy to detect, they are clearly shown on the screen. In case of sounds, however, it can cause a big trouble to people in EFL contexts, unless they listen carefully. How many people in Korea do care about the lyrics? The meaning can be easily distorted by the rhythm of the song. The virtual images can be stereotyped by listeners’ inappropriate schema as in my case. People should find its original intention. Try it! It’s your responsibility to know it in the Imperialistic, Capitalistic society.

Leave a reply