Monday, June 17, 2024

CMT Awards: ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons Changed Famous Lyrics to “Sweet Home Alabama,” Wouldn’t Diss Neil Young (Exclusive)


Keen eared country music fans may have heard a change of lyrics Sunday night during the all star performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s famous “Sweet Home Alabama.”

ZZ Top”s Billy Gibbons, asked to sing the third verse of the song, changed the lyrics. As everyone knows the song says “I hope Neil Young will remember/A Southern Man don’t need him around anyhow”

This was always considered a “diss” of Neil Young’s famous 1971 classic. The honky tonk Skynyrds didn’t like Canadian Young carpetbagging their turf.

But that was all 50 years ago or so. On Sunday, Gibbsons was part of the tribute along with Cody Johnson, Paul Rodgers, Slash, Chuck Leavell, Warren Hayes, Wynonna Judd, and LeAnn Rimes.

I’m told: “The producer asked Billy to lend his vocal to the third verse of “Sweet Home Alabama” which has long been construed as a “diss” to Neil Young and his “Southern Man” song.  Billy said he didn’t want to call out Neil by name as he considers him a friend and a neighbor so he took it upon himself to fudge the lyric a tad and sang “neighbor” instead of Neil.”

You can hear Billy garble Young’s name on purpose at around 3:23 in the video below. Good for Gibbons! He’s a mensch! Neil should send him a case of beer!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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