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

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

At a concert in Birmingham in June '98 Bob Dylan went way back into his scrapbook of obscurities and pulled out this anti-war song which he had written in 1962. There was a demo version of it... > Read more

Dean Martin: My Rifle, My Pony and Me (1959)

Dean Martin: My Rifle, My Pony and Me (1959)

As Nick Tosche revealed in his remarkable biography Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, Dean Martin didn't have to try hard at anything: he was good looking, could sing whatever was... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Elsewhere Art . . . Bob Dylan

Elsewhere Art . . . Bob Dylan

It's hardly surprising that Bob Dylan gets dozens of articles at Elsewhere, he's 80 after all and that means not just six decades of music but reviews, overviews and that on-going and sometimes... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska (1982)

Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska (1982)

From this distance it is hard to remember just how huge Springsteen was in the late 70s and early 80s: these days disco and punk/new wave get more pages in rock history books, but Bruce Springsteen... > Read more