Drive by Truckers – The Three Great Alabama Icons

“Such is the duality of the Southern thing”. I love that line from this song. Or poem. Or is it spoken word? Whatever it is, it’s brilliant. Live version of The Three Great Alabama Icons. This song is about racism, misunderstood meanings of what being Southern was about and a history of Southern men. like Alabama Governor George Wallance who would do anything for a vote. I was reminded of this song by a comment from Cian over on IrishElection on why Irish voters re-elect controversy soaked politicians.

This is just a small capture of the whole song:

Which leads us to George Wallace…Now Wallace was for all practical purposes the Governor of Alabama from 1962 until 1986… Once, when a law prevented him from succeeding himself he ran his wife Lerline in his place and she won by a landslide… He’s most famous as the belligerent racist voice of the segregationist South… Standing in the doorways of schools and waging a political war against a Federal Government that he decried as hypocritical…

And Wallace had started out as a lawyer and a judge with a very progressive and humanitarian track record for a man of his time. But he lost his first bid for governor in 1958 by hedging on the race issue, against a man who spoke out against integration…Wallace ran again in ’62 as a staunch segregationist and won big, and for the next decade spoke out loudly… He accused Kennedy and King of being communists.He was constantly on national news, representing the “good? people of Alabama…And you know race was only an issue on TV in the house that I grew up in…Wallace was viewed as a man from another time and place…

And when I first ventured out of theSouth, I was shocked at how strongly Wallace was associated with Alabama and its people… Ya know racism is a worldwide problem and it’s been since the beginning of recorded history… and it ain’t just white and black… But thanks to George Wallace, it’s always a little more convenient to play it with a Southern accent.

And bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd attempted to show another side of the South… One that certainly exists, but few saw beyond the rebel flag… And this applies not only to their critics and detractors, but also from their fans and followers. So for a while, when Neil Young would come to town, he’d get death-threats down in Alabama…

Ironically, in 1971, after a particularly racially charged campaign, Wallace began backpedaling, and he opened up Alabama politics to minorities at a rate faster than most Northern states or the Federal Government. And Wallace spent the rest of his life trying to explain away his racist past, and in 1982 won his last term in office with over 90% of the black vote… Such is the Duality of the Southern Thing…

And George Wallace died back in ’98 and he’s in Hell now, not because he’s a racist… His track record as a judge and his late-life quest for redemption make a good argument for his being, at worst, no worse than most white men of his generation, North or South…But because of his blind ambition and his hunger for votes, he turned a blind eye to the suffering of Black America. And he became a pawn in the fight against the Civil Rights cause…Fortunately for him, the Devil is also a Southerner

2 Responses to “Drive by Truckers – The Three Great Alabama Icons”

  1. Aidan Finn says:

    Love the DBT – they write consistently excellent and thought provoking lyrics. Check out this video of a recent unreleased song:

  2. auds says:

    Excellent band alright. Some great songs, particularly “Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)”.