Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man

This song was on their debut album (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-erd ) but if it were up to their producer (Al Kooper) it wouldn’t have been recorded.

Kooper didn’t like how the song was sounding and wasn’t crazy about it in the first place. He kept on saying he didn’t want it on the album.

At the studio, Van Zant told him to go somewhere and not come back for a while. He then proceeded to walk Kooper outside and to his car…he opened the door and then waved Kooper goodbye.

They recorded the song while he was away and it stayed on the album. Kooper later overdubbed an organ on the song.  It’s a huge favorite with fans and has been featured in movies and commercials. It’s one of those album songs that has gotten more popular as the years go by.

Van Zant’s grandmother passed away around the same time, so Gary Rossington and Van Zant got together at Van Zant’s apartment to share memories of their grandparents. As they talked, the stories they passed back and forth suddenly began to form into a song. Rossington came up with a chord progression, and Van Zant wrote the lyrics based on advice the women had given them over the years. They wrote it in about an hour.

Rossington was raised by his mother, and Van Zant was like a father figure in his life, even though he was just a few years older than him. Van Zant taught the guitarist how to drive a car or the other things that youngsters needed to learn in their teenage years.

The song was not released as a single but it finally charted in 2021 on Billboard US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs.

Ed King: I really enjoyed working with Al Kooper. I believe, had it not been for Al, no one would’ve heard of Skynyrd. He was the visionary behind the band and how it should be presented to the world. We didn’t always agree with Al, but I certainly enjoyed his presence.
When we drove up to Atlanta to record “Simple Man,” we played the song for Al in the studio. He hadn’t heard it. He didn’t care for it and said “You’re not putting that song on the album.” Ronnie asked Al to step outside. He escorted Al to his Bentley and opened the car door. Al stepped in. Ronnie shut the door and stuck his head in thru the open window. “When we’re done recording it, we’ll call you.”
Al came back a few hours later, added the organ part and it was a keeper. I don’t think any band before or since, making its debut album, could get away with doing that to the record producer. There was a healthy respect happening there…and that is a really funny story that reflects that.

Gary Rossington: “We just put down in a song what our mama or grandma had said to us, they really wrote it, we just played it.”

Al Kooper: Early on I begged Skynyrd to change their name. It looked on paper like it was pronounced “Lie-nerd Sky-nerd.” It didn’t make any sense at first glance, and it certainly didn’t conjure up what their music was about. I tried everything, but to no avail. They would not budge. So, I decided if I was stuck with it, I’d make the best of it.
They were also always getting in fistfights. If they couldn’t find anyone to fight, they’d fight each other. I decided to paint a rough-house image for them. I designed a skull head and spelled their name out in a bones typeface. 

Simple Man

Mama told me when I was young
“Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say
And if you do this it’ll help you some sunny day”

“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast
Troubles will come and they will pass
You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love
And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Oh yes, I will

“Boy, don’t you worry, you’ll find yourself
Follow your heart and nothing else
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied”

“And be a simple kind of man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me, son, if you can”

Baby, be a simple, really simple man
Oh, be something you love and understand
Baby, be a simple, kind of simple man


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

34 thoughts on “Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man”

    1. I’ve been talking to a blogger named Dave (A Sound Day) about all of the songs that weren’t released as a single back then but because of FM Radio back then they got heard…it could probably never happen today.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. a good one and one of the not many LS songs I was well familiar with long before coming on here and reading your posts. Another of those FM radio ‘hits’ we kind of talked about that was popular (probably might have charted if they went by airplay then as opposed to just sales) but never a single. Kooper sounded like a smart producer…knew how to choose his battles. Good that he lost on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. it’s always been one I’ve heard on the classic rock type stations and that my friends who were a bit more into that style of rock than I was listened to a lot. Is it close to the other two in numbers though – that would surprise me if it were the case.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really can’t argue with that pick, Max – solid tune! That said, like you and some of the commenters, I’m surprised it’s the third most streamed Skynyrd tune on Spotify.

    “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama” I get. But I would put songs like “Tuesday’s Gone”, “Gimme Three Steps” and “What’s Your Name” ahead of “Simple Man”. Of course, in the end, it’s all pretty subjective!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. One of the funny things about this tune is none of Skynyrd’s members came from Alabama.

        Frankly, I never cared too much about the lyrics. I love this tune because of the music.

        I know the lyrics criticized Neil Young because of “Southern Man,” who subsequently appeared to accept the criticism. Meanwhile, Neil was actually good friends with Ronnie Van Zant and other members of the group.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not just that… there is an Easter egg in the song… Kooper sings Southern Man in one part… you need headphones to hear it…

        There is a lot going on.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s coming around a week and a half lol…I do like the music like you do…I really took notice of it more when I wrote it up and listened to it in headphones.
        Neil also sang parts of the song live around two weeks after the crash.

        Liked by 1 person

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