What Song is it You Wanna Hear?

I haven’t listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd in I don’t know how long. You know, “Free Bird!” and all that. It just seems like such a terrestrial radio, classic rock cliché. But I was listening to the classic rock that really rocks channel on Sirius Satellite Radio the other day and they were playing some old Skynyrd, some stuff you wouldn’t hear on government radio, and I was thinking, you know, this ain’t bad.

I scrounged around a little and found my copy of Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd, Skynyrd’s 1973 debut. I put it on for a listen and was surprised to find I really enjoyed hearing those songs for the first time in years.

Pronounced did all right when it originally came out, helping lay the foundation for the success Second Helping would bring them the following year. Also helping push things along in 1974 was the release of “Free Bird” as a single.

A little bit of info on today’s songs, all demo versions and all of which were bonus tracks on the re-released version of Pronounced: “Mr. Banker” was the B-Side to the “Gimme Three Steps” single. This track is an excellent fusion of country and southern rock. “Down South Jukin’” was “Free Bird’s” B-side. This was actually the song I heard on Sirius that made me rethink my Lynyrd Skynyrd listening habits.

The story/legend behind “Gimme Three Steps” is that singer Ronnie Van Zant, who was 18 at the time, used a fake ID to get in a bar while his band mates Gary Rossington and Allen Collins waited for him in a truck. Van Zant danced with a girl named Linda, whose boyfriend came up to Ronnie and reached for something in his boot. Figuring he was going for a gun, Van Zant told him to give him a few steps and he would get out. He ran to the truck, and he, Rossington, and Collins wrote the song that night.

Bowling Green, Ky., locals will tell you the incident happened in their town. After a gig at the Tobacco Warehouse, the band went down the road to a bar called The Little Brown Jug, thus “I was cuttin' a rug, down at a place called The Jug,” which is where Ronnie Van Zant ran into an angry local man with a gun.

And of course, “Free Bird.” In October 1970, Skynyrd’s then-manager, Alan Walden had arranged for the band to record some demos at Quinvy Studios, just outside of Muscle Shoals, Ala. This much-shortened version of “Free Bird” was one of the songs recorded at Quinvy. You’ll notice it fades out just past the four-minute mark, much like the later single release would do.

The story behind “Free Bird’s” origin is that the lyrics came about when Allen Collins' girlfriend, who realized that music would always come first with him, asked, “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” Allen jotted the line down for future use and here we are, more than 35 years later.

Mr. Banker (demo).mp3
Down South Jukin’ (demo).mp3
Gimme Three Steps (demo).mp3
Free Bird (demo).mp3

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At 11:16 AM , Blogger Nazz Nomad said...

cool stuff. sweet home alabama (along with hotel california) are still played constantly and ad nauseum on rock radio in NY.

At 7:37 PM , Blogger Amio Cajander said...

Great ! Thank you !


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