“A southern man don’t need him around anyhow.”
Ronnie Van Zant penned the line in 1973 to fire back at Canadian Neil Young over his songs “Southern Man” and “Alabama,” which he felt were unfair generalizations towards southerners.
While neither of the Young songs became hits. “Sweet Home Alabama” climbed the charts and has remained a sort of anthem for Alabamians and people across the southern states.
However, the successful diss track has never done much to dissuade the very opinionated Neil Young from sharing his views in the years since, whether that be through his music or in letters, such as the one he wrote to President Trump in 2020.
This week, Young wrote another angry letter, this time to his own management team and record label, demanding that they “immediately” remove his music from Spotify. Although the letter has since been deleted, the sudden desire to leave the platform stemmed from his frustration over statements made by Joe Rogan on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.
Rogan has openly discussed his opposition to vaccine mandates and opted for Ivermectin to treat his case of Covid-19 in September of 2021, causing major backlash in the mainstream media. Rogan, who has described himself “libertarian-leaning” garnered further controversy from many left-leaning media outlets when he recently had the de-platformed Dr. Robert Malone on his show to discuss mRNA technology in relation to vaccines.
In his letter to management and his label, Young accused Rogan of peddling “misinformation” and declared that this is his reason for wanting to exit the platform, even going so far to offer the ultimatum “they can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
While it’s pretty evident based on that sentiment that Rogan has seriously gotten under Neil Young’s skin, Young seems to have also overestimated his relevance and bargaining power in this age. Being a big fan of classic rock myself, I won’t pretend that he has not earned his place in music history, no matter how irritating I find his personality and lyrics regarding the region I call home. With that being said though, the 76 year old’s heyday has certainly come and gone, and arguably was never at the height of many of his contemporaries.
Young has just over 6 million listeners on Spotify while Joe Rogan touts a whopping 200 million, putting him at number one on their podcast charts. For Young to offer an ultimatum between the two of them seems not only conceited, but also unwise.
Thus far, neither Joe Rogan nor Spotify have responded to the remarks. Given that the letter has been deleted, perhaps Young has reconsidered his request or had some miraculous change of heart. Nevertheless, the situation has made its way into countless social media posts, with the reception to Young’s comments being about as split as people are over Covid related issues in general.
While many are applauding his bold statements, it’s clear that “southern men” are not the only ones who “don’t need him around anyhow,” and many others feel it would be no loss to no longer have his music on Spotify.