|Sweet Home Alabama|
It reached #8 on the US charts in 1974, and was the band's second hit single. At a band practice shortly after bassist Ed King had switched to guitar, King heard fellow guitarist Gary Rossington playing a guitar riff that inspired him (in fact, this riff is still heard in the final version of the song and is played during the verses as a counterpoint to the main D-C+9-G chord progression). In interviews, Ed King has said that, during the night following the practice session, the chords and two main guitar solos came to him in a dream, note for note. King then introduced the song to the band the next day. Also written at this session was the track that would follow "Alabama" on the Second Helping album, "I Need You".
A live version of the track on the compilation album Collectybles places the writing of the song during the late summer of 1973, as the live set available on the album is dated October 30, 1973. The track was recorded at Studio One in Doraville, Georgia, using just King, bassist Wilkeson, and drummer Burns to lay down the basic backing track. The famous "Turn it up" line uttered by Ronnie Van Zant in the beginning was not intended to be in the song. Van Zant was just asking producer Al Kooper and engineer Rodney Mills to turn up the volume in his headphones so that he could hear the track better.
There is a semi-hidden vocal line in the second verse after the "Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her" line. In the left channel, you can hear the phrase "Southern Man" being sung lightly (at approximately 0:55). This was producer Al Kooper doing a Neil Young impression and was just another incident of the band members messing around in the studio while being recorded. According to Leon Wilkeson, it was Kooper's idea to continue and echo the lines from "Southern Man" after each of Van Zant's lines. "Better...keep your head"..."Don't forget what your / good book says", etc. But Ronnie insisted that Kooper remove it, not wanting to plagiarize or upset Young. Kooper left the one line barely audible in the left channel.
"Sweet Home Alabama" was written as an answer to two songs, "Southern Man" and "Alabama" by Neil Young, which dealt with themes of racism and slavery in the American South.