New signs to say ‘Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama’
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Tourists traveling into Alabama on interstate highways will soon be greeted by signs strengthening the state’s official connection to the Lynyrd Skynyrd song title “Sweet Home Alabama.”
“Alabama The Beautiful” signs that have stood at the state line since 2003 will be replaced with green and white signs saying “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama.” The new signs will be erected during the next few months, with the first of the 15-feet-by-18-feet signs likely on Interstate 85 at Lanett in east Alabama, state Transportation Director John Cooper said at a news conference Friday.
Smaller 3-feet-by-4-feet versions of the signs will be on the grounds of the eight state welcome centers to serve as backdrops for travelers’ photos, state Tourism Director Lee Sentell said. The total cost for the new signs is $61,000, he said.
Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded several songs in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but “Sweet Home Alabama” was recorded in Doraville, Georgia, in 1973. Band members wrote the song as a response to two Neil Young songs that were critical of the South, “Southern Man” in 1970 and “Alabama” in 1972.
Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie Van Zant made the intent clear when he sang, “Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her. I heard ol’ Neil put her down. Well I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don’t need him around, anyhow.”
The song quickly became a party anthem. The Reese Witherspoon movie “Sweet Home Alabama” in 2002 and the Kid Rock hit record “All Summer Long” in 2008 added to the recognition of the song. Acknowledging the popularity of the song title, the state of Alabama began using it on car tags and in tourism promotions several years ago.
Alabama has a five-year, $75,000 agreement with Universal Music to use the song title in tourism promotions, Sentell said.
Sentell said tourism slogans have been important for states ever since Virginia came up with “Virginia is for lovers.” “‘Sweet Home Alabama’ works for our state because it is a very popular song, and it is a very popular phrase,” he said.
Sentell said his agency is negotiating with Universal Music to try to sell “Sweet Home Alabama” shirts and caps in gift shops.
For a five-year period through 2013, Alabama’s standard car tag said “Sweet Home” at the top and “Alabama” at the bottom. The 2014 tag doesn’t use the phrase. Sentell said the state Department of Public Safety wanted the state name at the top of the tag to make it easier for law enforcement to recognize, and there was no way to make “Sweet Home Alabama” work with the state name at the top of the tag.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.