Lynyrd Skynyrd songs are a valuable asset in any guitar player’s repertoire. The Southern rock band has spawned many classic hits over their decades long career, including “Sweet Home Alabama” and the often-requested “Free Bird”.
Three chords make up the vast majority of this 1974 hit.
The first line for “Free Bird” came from Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Allen Collins’s girlfriend, Kathy, who asked Collins “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” The question became the first line of the band’s signature song and the band performed it for the first time during the reception at Collins and Kathy’s wedding.
“Simple Man” was inspired by the passing of vocalist Ronnie Van Zant’s grandmother.
The term “Saturday Night Special” refers to cheap handguns, and the lyrics of this 1975 track associate them with impulsive violence. Lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant said in the documentary If I Leave Here Tomorrow: A Film About Lynyrd Skynyrd (2018) that the band knew a person who shot another friend over a game of poker.
Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington told VH1’s Behind the Music that the story behind “Gimme Three Steps” actually happened at a bar the band was hanging out at, when a woman asked Von Zant to dance and he later encountered her angry boyfriend, who threatened to shoot him.
The lyrics of “That Smell”, off of the 1977 album “Street Survivors” are morbid, containing lines like “tomorrow might not be here for you”, and that “the smell of death surrounds you”. Three days after the album was released, a plane crash killed several members of the band, including Van Zant.
What’s the unusual piano sound on the chorus of this song? It’s courtesy of a Mellotron, an instrument played by pressing keys that cause magnetic tape to be pulled against a playback head.