Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

 |   |  <1 min read

Lynyrd Skynyrd: Freebird (demo, 1970)

It's a joke that never ages, at a rock concert someone yells out "Free Bird". It's such a standard that the American writer Mitch Myers entitled his collection of rock anecdotes and fiction The Boy Who Cried Free Bird. Whoever that guy is, he's as notorious as the one who shouted "Judas" at Dylan.

The joke -- for those who have never heard Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird from '73 -- is that the song seems interminable (it is actually 9.06 seconds on their Pronounced album) and contains marathon guitar parts by Gary Rossington on slide and then Allen Collins in the second half.

The song itself has a number of interesting features: Al Kooper played organ on it in the studio (as Roosevelt Gook); Collins had the music for six months before Ronnie Van Zandt wrote the lyrics; the first words came from what Collins' girlfriend said to him at a high school dance; and the original didn't have the midpoint tempo change which became its distinctive feature.

Over the years the song has appeared in extended live versions (of course) but here is their first demo, recorded at Quinvy Studios in Sheffield, Alabama in October 1970.

Curiously enough it doesn't sound half as good as the more famous long version -- and it is only half the length. 

For more one-off or unusual songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

Known mostly these days as the writer of Blue Suede Shoes (he sang it before Elvis' chart-topping cover), Carl Perkins was the man who was the most hillbilly cat of them all in the early... > Read more

Hank Williams Jr: Don't Give Us a Reason (1990)

Hank Williams Jr: Don't Give Us a Reason (1990)

War is good for business (if you are part of the military-industrial complex), but also a fine time for stay-at-home patriots to get bellicose . . . among them songwriters who can reduce heroism to... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE SHAGGS: Sisters doing it for themselves

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE SHAGGS: Sisters doing it for themselves

When Don Emerson realised his sons Donnie and Joe had musical ambitions he was enormously supportive. He bought them instruments and then, on the family farm in Washington state, built them a... > Read more

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

There are a number of big and ambitious books about New Zealand popular music (like Chris Bourke's Blue Smoke and John Dix's Stranded in Paradise) and then there are others which are smaller and... > Read more