I must preface this by saying I grew up in the Mid-South area of Arkansas, Tennessee and all that, and Sweet Home Alabama was in heavy rotation on local rock/pop stations, like, ALWAYS. Anyway, I was a mere child when the song came out and I was blissfully unaware of the Neil Young/Southern Man* hoopla, so I didn't question when I thought
Well I heard Mr. Young sing about her
well her legs is the youngest thing about her
That lyric always made me picture haggard woman with a face and bustline like Willie Nelson and legs like Betty Grable. I imagined that she'd seen some rough road, but that her legs had generally been left unmolested by the ravages of her rowdy southern lifestyle. I don't know-- heavy-duty sunblock? But you already knew I was throwed off.
In truth, grammar and indeed the very building blocks of our language can't be reasonably tested in pop and rock music, and who was I to question it? I think I didn't even learn about the whole southern man thing until my thirties or so.
Disclaimer: one of the absolute pinnacles of my rock-concert attending life was about 1992 or so when Sonic Youth and Social Distortion opened for Neil Young on an arena tour-- spectacular show. LOVED it. I went to see SY and SD, and found that I quite liked and respected Mr. Young as well. I love his soundtrack to one of my favorite films, Dead Man, and he has a few songs I really like, and all this in spite of his adenoidal whinging.
All that being said:
I hope Mr. Young will remember a Southern man don't need him around, anyhow.
*frankly, the joke has worn thin at this point. All the stereotypes of Klan-card-carrying, knuckle-dragging, chest-thumping southerners who are eternally ignorant, horny and cousin-humping are patently offensive, generally, and expose those who put forth such dreck as the marginalizing, arrogant snobs they are. Of course, one could find living, mouth-breathing examples of every stereotype, but I only have to look as far as my own father as an example of an extremely evolved human being. He always told me I could be anything in life I wanted, and he also made it a point to tell me that he loves the fact that my mother is an incredibly intelligent person, and that he certainly didn't want a robot for a wife, and he values her ability to make her own choices. Smart man, my Pop. Mom too. :)