There’s a lot going on in the Lynyrd Skynyrd recording of Sweet Home Alabama. So much in fact, that some of you might be a little overwhelmed in trying to learn it as it was originally done.
You can throw all of that aside and just learn the basic strumming pattern. You can use it throughout the song and once you’ve mastered it, then maybe you can add some of the fills and variations found in the original recording.
Playing it this way is a lot easier than this, wouldn’t you say:
Again, with just strumming it you won’t get all the nuances found in the original recording, but hey, at least it’s a good starting point.
Bridging The Gap
So, if you find yourself in the boat of wanting to learn and play it like the original, but find your skills lacking, you can combine the two different approaches. Learn it as a straightforward strumming song and then gradually add some of the detail. For example, look at the tab below. We’ve omitted some of the arpeggiation found in the original, but subtracted some of the full chord strums found in the strumming version. In the end, we’ve added the fill over the open G chord (if you dare).
Play Your Way
Hundreds and even thousands of performers play this song all over the place. A lot of them will end up doing their own thing with it. Lynyrd Skynyrd really did a number on this song and it’s hard to replicate it note for note. It’s not because it’s “so darn hard”. The reason is that it’s too much to remember! You can get a fair approximation of the song by just understanding it’s basic parts and replicating it to an extent. I highly doubt the boys from Skynyrd ever played it the same exact way every time, so why should you.
With that being said, it’s fun to go back and check out the full tab just as a learning experience.
Chords And Lyrics
Lynyrd Skynyrd was a very talented group that filled their song recordings with a lot of great instrumentation. We’ll look a some of the individual instrumentation which can be played on acoustic, but first, let’s learn the core of the song.
The first verse begins with a trip back to “Alabamy”. Surely it was written on a tour bus hence the ‘big wheels’.
D C G Big wheels keep on turning D C G Carry me home to see my kin D C G Singing songs about the southland D C G I miss Alabamy once again And I think its a sin, yes
D C G Well I heard mister Young sing about her D C G Well, I heard ole Neil put her down D C G Well, I hope Neil Young will remember D C G A southern man don't need him around anyhow
D C G Sweet home Alabama D C G Where the skies are so blue D C G Sweet Home Alabama D C G Lord, I'm coming home to you
At the end of the second chorus, a tag is added right before the solos start:
Here I come Alabama
In Birmingham they love the governor Now we all did what we could do Now Watergate does not bother me Does your conscience bother you? Tell the truth
This verse talks about the now legendary recording studio Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama where Lynyrd Skynryd recorded some of their albums.
The ‘Swappers’ is the name of the four session musicians that founded the studio who “have been known to pick a song or two”.
Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swappers And they've been known to pick a song or two Lord they get me off so much They pick me up when I'm feeling blue Now how about you?
Sweet home Alabama Oh sweet home baby Where the skies are so blue And the governor's true Sweet Home Alabama Lordy Lord, I'm coming home to you