Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell

Now they call you Prince Charming, Can’t speak a word when you’re full of ‘ludes

If you see ludes…you know you are in the seventies or in that vicinity.

This song is about Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington, who bought a new car (a Ford Torino), got drunk, and took some Quaaludes, and crashed it into a tree, and then into a house. The band was supposed to start a tour in a few days but had to postpone it because of Rossington’s injuries. I always wonder what Gary thinks when he plays this song. He is the only original member left in the touring band.

Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins wrote this song. They were not pleased with Rossington, whose drug and alcohol problems were affecting the band.

A couple of years ago I read a book by their tour manager and this band was a handful on the road. They were tutored by the master… Keith Moon on the fine art of destruction but Lynryd Skynrd loved to fight…mostly each other. Ronnie Van Zant was said to be a nice guy until drunk…after that, the band members would tend to go the opposite way from their tough lead singer and undisputed leader.

The song didn’t chart but remains a classic rock staple and a good song of that era. It was on their last album Street Survivors released in 1977…3 days before the plane they were in crashed killing Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, and backup singer Cassie Gaines.

That Smell

Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars
Oak tree you’re in my way
There’s too much coke and too much smoke
Look what’s going on inside you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Angel of darkness is upon you
Stuck a needle in your arm
So take another toke, have a blow for your nose
One more drink fool, will drown you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Now they call you Prince Charming
Can’t speak a word when you’re full of ‘ludes
Say you’ll be all right come tomorrow
But tomorrow might not be here for you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Hey, you’re a fool you
Stick them needles in your arm
I know I been there before

One little problem that confronts you
Got a monkey on your back
Just one more fix, Lord might do the trick
One hell of a price for you to get your kicks
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell”

  1. I used to take downers back in the 70s and one night I took too many and I did a lot of crazy things that I did not remember, but my friends told me about later. They shunned me for a while after that. I always think of the Billy Joel song Big Shot when I recall that evening.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. My husband–not a big Skynyrd fan–loves this song. He used to play it all the time when we were DJs on the college radio station. I, on the other hand, am a Skynyrd fan, but I don’t care for this song. Go figure. I do think the dueling/overlapping/perfectly harmonized guitars are amazing. Of course, this is a Skynyrd signature (Van Zant called Rossington, Collins, King, Gains his mules) but this song stands out to me in that regard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m surprised it wasn’t released as a single. It’s gained a new life on classic radio…this has to be one of the most played by them. My favorite song by them is on this album..”I Never Dreamed”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know that song. I had Gold and Platinum and that was it. I love every song on that album. We (my husband and I) have Street Survivors, but I’ve never listened to the whole album. I know. That’s bad but like I told you, I’m a singles kind of gal.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know what you are talking about. I have a cousin who is a big time fan…so I was listening to it even if I wanted to or not…but it’s the most different track they did…it should have been edited as a single. It’s a song where only Gaines could have played. If you ever get bored give it a listen. Ronnie sings it very gentle also.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. certainly earned the band money from radio play like a single…. that , the “Gimme Three Steps” (or was it two)? and of course, “Sweet Home Alabama” were the only songs by them I heard much in the ’80s or ’90s…. “Freebird” is supposed to be a classic too, but I found that radio didn’t play it much, maybe it was too long. I hear that one more these days on classic rock radio

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would have to say, that, this is one song where I am completely opposite on. Most of the time, I’m all about the musical composition and the lyrics be damned. I’m not fond of this song’s music but, I LOVE the lyrics and the way Van Zant sings them.

    “Oak tree, you’re in my way…”

    “Stuck a needle in your arm…”

    “One more drink, fool, will drown you…”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good to learn what the lyrics are and the story behind them. I could only understand the chorus when it played on the radio. Not fond of the song, but I do like a lot of their other songs. I remember “What’s your Name?” was on the jukebox at the little country bar I hung out at as a teen (my mom worked there) along with “Waylon & Willie and the boys.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. After watching that documentary these guys were a mess but produced some quality music over a short period of time.
    I like the lyrics of this tune. Ronnie speaks the truth here.

    Liked by 1 person

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