I really don’t like the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Part of it is just that whole southern — draped in the Confederate flag — thing. Certainly, I came down firmly on the other side of their whine fest against Neil Young. But another thing is that I just don’t think that much of them. They are certainly a competent band. But they are highly slappable even without the “southern pride that absolutely positively has nothing to do with racism” nonsense.
I want to discuss “Freebird.” My friend Will cannot pick up a guitar without starting to play “Freebird.” The reason for this is that it is about the only song that he knows. And I hate the song. Lyrically, it’s just pathetic — a man whining about how he needs to be “free.” But what kills it is the music which plods along, “God this song is really boring!” So it really bugs me when Will plays the song.
But I can’t be too down on Will, because he made me laugh a great deal once in reference to “Freebird.” We were listening to a live version of the song. It might be the version that I’ve embedded below. If I had to sum it up, I’d have to say it was: inauthentic. It can’t decide if it’s rock or country. It’s a muddle, and it errs too far into silly country. So it’s almost too much when Ronnie Van Zant croons “I’m as free as a bird now” (5:25 in the video). But then he yells out to the audience, “How ’bout you?!” And Will, without missing a beat, said, “How ’bout your horse?!” It still makes me laugh, because in those four words, Will summed up the pretense of the song and the band.