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Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird lyric meanings and song facts

All facts provided by Songfacts

This began as a ballad without the guitar solos at the end, and they recorded it that way for the first time in 1972. Guitarist Allen Collins had been working on the song on and off for the previous 2 years. At the time of recording, the song was only 7 1/2 minutes long, but throughout the next year, Collins continued to refine the song until it was recorded for the final cut of Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd in 1973. (thanks, Aaron - Twin Cities, MN)
Collins wrote the music long before Ronnie Van Zant came up with lyrics for it. Van Zant finally got inspired one night and had Collins and Gary Rossington play it over and over until he wrote the words.
The lyrics are about a man explaining to a girl why he can't settle down and make a commitment.
Allman Brothers Band guitarist Duane Allman died around the same time this was released. Skynyrd sometimes dedicated it to Allman at concerts, but it was written long before his death. The double guitar solo at the end is the same style as many early Allman Brothers songs on which Duane played.
Skynyrd has played this only as an instrumental since the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. His brother, Johnny, took his place. For a while, he wouldn't sing it - the band played it as an instrumental and the crowd would sing the words.
Their record company did not want this on the album. They thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it.
The band never thought this was going to be a hit.
In 1976, a live version was released from the One More For the Road live album. It went to #38.
Skynyrd always plays this as the last song at their shows.
This is a Classic Rock anthem. Shouting it out as a request at concerts has become a Rock N' Roll joke. Every now and then a musician will actually play it.
In the US, this wasn't released as a single until a year after the album came out. By that time, "Sweet Home Alabama" had already been released, and the single version of "Free Bird" was edited down. The long version from the album has always been more popular.
The band Will to Power scored a minor hit in 1988 with a medley of this and Peter Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way."
This was Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album. They gave it the title because they knew people would not be able to pronounce their name.
Skynyrd's 1991 boxed set contains a demo version of this.

All facts provided by Songfacts


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