Blackfoot – Train Train

How many grandfathers write your biggest hit song? This one was written by Shorty Medlocke and later covered by his grandson Rickey Medlocke’s band Blackfoot. Shorty was a bluegrass and Delta blues musician and played the blues harp intro on the track. This song doesn’t play around…it’s straight seventies boogie rock and comes straight at you.

On a side note…train songs. There are so many great ones. Big Train From Memphis, Love Train, Midnight Train to Georgia, Peace Train, Train In Vain, Downbound Train, Train Kept a Rollin’ and I could go on and on but I’ll stop.

Before founding Blackfoot, Rickey Medlocke was also an early member of Lynyrd Skynyrd as a second drummer. Blackfoot had a number of hit albums but proved to be more popular in Europe than in the United States. Blackfoot Strikes was their first platinum album and produced their only Top 40 hits: “Highway Song” and this one.

They named themselves Blackfoot because they decided to change their name to represent the American Indian heritage of its members. Jakson Spires had a Cheyenne/French father and a Cherokee mother. Rickey Medlocke’s father was Lakota Sioux and Blackfoot Indian, and his mother’s side is Creek/Cherokee, Scottish and Irish. Greg “Two Wolf” Walker is part of Eastern (Muskogee) Creek. Charlie Hargrett was the only one without Native American heritage in the original, classic line-up.

Train Train peaked at #38 in the Billboard 100 in 1979. While this song was in the Charts, they opened up for the Who in 1979. The album Blackfoot Strikes peaked at #42 in the Billboard Album Charts.

The group disbanded in the early 1980s but has reunited a few times since then, the second time including all the original members except Medlocke, who had rejoined Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1996. 

This song has been covered by hard rock band Warrant and… Dolly Parton.

They did go through different names as many bands do… Fresh Garbage, Hammer, and Free.

Charlie Hargrett (guitar player): The band found out there was another Hammer already in operation. We needed a new name quick, Since we were moving up north to start a big recording career, we thought, ok, we’ll call it ‘Free’, because we’re free now. And then All Right Now came out, and we were like, ‘Shit’. So Jakson came up with Blackfoot, because of his Native American heritage.”

Train Train

Oh, here it comes

Well, train, train, take me on out of this town
Train, train, Lord, take me on out of this town
Well, that woman I’m in love with, Lord, she’s Memphis bound

Well, leavin’ here, I’m just a raggedy hobo
Lord, I’m leaving here, I’m just a raggedy hobo
Well, that woman I’m in love with, Lord, she’s got to go

Well, goodbye pretty mama, get yourself a money man
Goodbye, pretty mama, Lord, get yourself a money man
You take that midnight train to Memphis
Lord, leave me if you can
Oh, take that midnight train to Memphis
Lord, leave me if you can
Oh, take that train, baby

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Saturday Night Special

The riff in this song is ominous sounding. As usual Van Zant’s lyrics fit the music perfectly. This song seems strange knowing that many members had guns and were widely known as a wild band.

This song is about the cheap guns you could buy on the street for 20 bucks called Saturday Night Specials. Van Zant was advocating more control over the illegal ones that were so easy to get.

Lynyrd Skynyrd weren’t against legal guns. Many of them had them. Leon Wilkeson, the bass player, actually took to wearing a holster and a real gun onstage but it was only loaded with blanks. On one tour they were opening for Black Sabbath at Nassau Coliseum, Long Island. Black Sabbath fans apparently didn’t like them and rushed the stage with taunts.

When one fan got too close, Wilkeson drew his pistol and fired a blank over the heads of the crowd. Everybody immediately backed off and the show completed without any more trouble. Yep…they were a wild bunch.

The song peaked at #27 in the Billboard 100 and #63 in Canada. It was off of their Nothin’ Fancy album released in 1975. The album peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts and #43 in the UK. It would be their last album produced by Al Kooper.

For this song, drummer Bob Burns had to take a break from touring and Artimus Pyle was brought in to replace him. Pyle was given just a couple of days to rehearse the song in a rented Atlanta club before they hit the road again.

This was the last album that Ed King appeared on with the original band. Ed was from Southern California and the only non-Southerner in the lineup. He said he felt like an outsider in the band. He was originally in the Strawberry Alarm Clock and joined Lynyrd Skynyrd just in time for their original album and played bass on that. He would soon switch back to electric guitar and would help write Sweet Home Alabama.

One night on tour in Pittsburgh King was fed up and left in the middle of the night. They had 4 weeks remaining on the tour.

Ed King: We had a show in Pittsburgh one night. (May 26, 1975) Ronnie and my guitar tech got thrown in jail the night before in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were really late getting to the show. My guitar strings weren’t changed for the show. By the end of the night, I had broken two strings. All the way back to the hotel Ronnie was just raising hell about it. When we got back to the hotel, I just said that this is just really screwed up. This came at the very end of all kinds of stuff on that tour. I just didn’t need it anymore.

Despite this…. some people forget just how good live they were. They could go toe to toe with the Stones or any other touring band at the time.

Mick Jagger laid some ground rules at the 1976 Knebworth Festival for Lynyrd Skynyrd…they could do what they wanted except walk down the prop tongue part of the stage. That was a stupid thing to tell this band…they did exactly that.

The Stones played later but the day belonged to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Gary Rossington: “It was a strong message that Ronnie was conveying, Those cheap handguns were no good for hunting or anything else – they were just made to kill people. And those guns were easy to find. We came from a rough part of town, the west side of Jacksonville. There were a lot of bad people there, and every week you’d hear that somebody got shot or killed.”

Although the song didn’t hit the top 20, it has remained a staple on classic rock radio for years.

This is a live version in 1976 at the Knebworth Festival after Ed left the band and Steve Gaines took his place. Gaines was probably the best guitar player they ever had.

Saturday Night Special

Two feet they come a creepin’
Like a black cat do
And two bodies are layin’ naked
Creeper think he got nothin’ to lose
So he creeps into this house, yeah
And unlocks the door
And as a man’s reaching for his trousers
Shoots him full of thirty-eight holes

Mr. Saturday night special
Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
Ain’t good for nothin’
But put a man six feet in a hole

Big Jim’s been drinkin’ whiskey
And playin’ poker on a losin’ night
And pretty soon ol’ Jim starts a thinkin’
Somebody been cheatin’ and lyin’
So Big Jim commence to fightin’
I wouldn’t tell you no lie
Big Jim done pulled his pistol
Shot his friend right between the eyes

Mr. Saturday night special
Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
Ain’t good for nothin’
But put a man six feet in a hole

Oh, it’s the Saturday night special

Hand guns are made for killin’
They ain’t no good for nothin’ else
And if you like to drink your whiskey
You might even shoot yourself
So why don’t we dump ’em people
To the bottom of the sea
Before some ol’ fool come around here
Wanna shoot either you or me

Mr. Saturday night special
Got a barrel that’s blue and cold
Ain’t good for nothin’
But put a man six feet in a hole

Mr. the Saturday night special
And I’d like to tell you what you could do with it
And that’s the end of the song

Lynyrd Skynyrd – I Need You

This album track came off of their second album Second Helping released in 1974. It was less than a year after their fantastic debut album called Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd. 

In my opinion they had some good albums after this one but not until their final one Street Survivors  did they match their first two.

Second Helping contained their big hit Sweet Home Alabama.  The album peaked at #12 in the Billboard Album Chart and #9 in Canada in 1974.

They played schools, parties, and bars for years before they hit it big. The band was first discovered in a rock club called Funnochio’s, on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1972. They were found by the famous Al Kooper, who had just landed an executive position at MCA Records and was searching to find some new talent for MCA’s “Sounds of the South” label. At that time Kooper was on tour supporting Badfinger at the time.

This album was produced by Al Kooper who was a founding member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and he also played organ on Bob Dylan’s classic Like A Rolling Stone.

The three guitar attack was important with this band but it was Ronnie Van Zant’s songwriting that made them what they were. This song is a little slower but has that Skynryd build up of guitars. The band had some great album cuts and this is one of them.

Al Kooper: “Ronnie Van Zant was Lynyrd Skynyrd. I don’t mean to demean the roles the others played in the group’s success, but it never would have happened without him. His lyrics were a big part of it – like Woody Guthrie and Merle Haggard before him, Ronnie knew how to cut to the chase. And Ronnie ran that band with an iron hand. I have never seen such internal discipline in a band. One example: These guys composed all of their guitar solos. Most bands improvised solos each time they performed or recorded. Not them. Ronnie’s dream was that they would sound exactly the same every time they took the stage.” 

I Need You

Ain’t no need to worry
There ain’t no use to cry
‘Cause I’ll be comin’ home soon
To keep you satisfied

You know I get so lonely
That I feel I can’t go on
And it feels so good inside babe
Just to call you on the telephone
An’ I said…

Ooh baby I love you
What more can I say
Ooh baby I need you
I miss you more everyday

I woke up early this mornin’
And sun came shining down
And it found me wishin’ and a’hoping
Mama you could be around

Well you know I need you
More than the air I breathe
And I guess I’m just tryin’ to tell you woman
Oh what you mean to me yeah, yeah

Ooh baby I love you
What more can I say
Ooh baby I need you
I miss you more everyday
What I say…

I’m tryin’ to tell you I love you
In each and every way
I’m tryin’ to tell you I need you
Much more than just a piece of leg

Ooh baby I love you
What more can I say
Ooh baby I need you
I miss you more everyday

Ooh baby I love, love, love, love you
What more can I say yeah
‘Cause ooh baby I need your sweet lovin’
I miss you more an’ more everyday

Ooh baby I love you
Baby, baby I need ya

….

Lynryd Skynryd – Comin’ Home

This song wasn’t released during the lifetime of the original band. It was -released on the album Skynyrd’s First and…Last  in 1978 a year after the plane crash.

The album was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama in 1971-1972. It was originally intended to be their debut album but it was shelved, making (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) their actual debut.

There are some really good songs on this posthumous album . Personally I wished this song would have made the debut album. The song is about being out on the road touring and finally making it back home. It was written by Ronnie Van Zant and Allen Collins. The song doesn’t have the crisp production of the debut album Prounounced but it’s a good song.

Ronnie Van Zant was a great and  sometimes under rated songwriter. The band members have  said that he never wrote lyrics down on paper. The band would be practicing and he would hear a riff or a chord progression he liked and would tell them to keep going through it over and over. After thinking about it he would start singing what he came up with. 

A year or so before the crash Ronnie thought venturing into country music. One of his musical influences was Merle Haggard.

Comin’ Home

It’s been so long since I’ve been gone
Another day might be too long for me
Traveling around I’ve had my fill
Of broken dreams and dirty deals
A concrete jungle surrounding me
Many nights I’ve slept out in the streets
I paid my dues and I changed my style
Seen hard times, all over now

I want to come home. It’s been so long since I’ve been away
And please, don’t blame me ’cause I’ve tried
I’ll be coming home soon to your love, to stay

I miss old friends that I once had
Times ain’t changed and I’ll be glad when I go home
I don’t know why the thought came to me
But why I’m here I really can’t see, and now

I want to come home. It’s been so long since I’ve been away
And please, don’t blame me ’cause I’ve tried
I’ll be coming home soon to your love, to stay
Coming home to stay
Coming home to your love, mama
I’ve seen better days

I miss old friends that I once had
Times ain’t changed and I’ll be glad when I go home
I don’t know why the thought came to me
But why I’m here I really can’t see, and now

I want to come home. it’s been so long since I’ve been away
And please, don’t blame me ’cause I’ve tried
I’ll be coming home soon to your love, to stay
Coming home to stay
Coming home to your love, mama
I’ve seen better days

Lynyrd Skynyrd – I Ain’t The One

I Ain’t the One has a great opening riff and it was written by guitarist Gary Rossington and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, and was featured as the first track on Skynyrd’s debut album (pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd).

The album was one of the great rock debut albums. When you listen to this album you can hear a little of Cream, Stones, and Free. British rock was a huge influence on Lynyrd Skynyrd.

There is a great version of this song of them playing it  at the Knebworth Festival in England. Although the headliner was The Rolling Stones but Skynyrd was the band that grabbed the notices of that festival.

At a gig in Atlanta in 1972 they were discovered and signed by musician, producer, and founding member of Blood, Sweat, and Tears and The Blues Project, Al Kooper.

After two songs into recording bassist Leon Wilkeson quit so he was replaced by ex-Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King who originally wanted to play guitar with the band.

After they finished recording Ronnie Van Zant decided that King, who had added some guitar to the record, would be better on lead guitar so he asked Wilkeson to rejoin.

With Wilkeson back the now seven-man band was complete and would remain that way until Ed King and Bob Burns left the band in 1975. The guitarist Steve Gaines would join in 1976.

I Ain’t The One

Well, I’ll tell you plainly baby
What I plan to do
‘Cause I may be crazy baby
But I ain’t no fool
Your daddy’s rich, mama
You’re overdue
But I ain’t the one, baby
Been messing with you
Got bells in your mind, mama
So won’t you pardon me
I think its time for me to move along
I do believe

Now you’re talking jive, woman
When you say to me
Your daddy’s gonna take us in baby
‘N take care of me
You know and I know, woman
I ain’t the one
I never hurt you sweet heart
I never pulled my gun
Got bells in your mind, baby
So won’t you pardon me?
I think its time for me to move along
I do believe
Time for me to put my boots out in the street baby
Are you ready boots — walk on

All right there missy, let me tell you a thing or two
Now you’re talking jive, woman
When you say to me
Your daddy’s gonna take us in baby
‘N take care of me
When you know and I know, woman
I ain’t the one
That ain’t my idea — uh unh — of having fun
Got rings in your eyes lady
So won’t you pardon me
I think its time for me to move along
I do believe
I must be in the middle of some kind of conspiracy

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Whiskey Rock-A-Roller

I thought of this song because a vendor I deal with asked me if I wanted to be in a whisky tasting event. I told him I rarely if ever drink but he convinced me! I was sent two bottles of whiskey and I have to log on and tell them what I think of the two different brands.

The song was written by Billy Powell, Edward King, and Ronnie Van Zant, this song is about Lynyrd Skynyrd’s touring life which was interesting. Ronnie Van Zant  ran into a writer who asked him “what are you man?” Ronnie Van Zant responded to the writer, saying he is a “Whiskey Rock a Roller.”

The song was on their 3rd album Nuthin’ Fancy. This is a great bar song. It was their last album produced by Al Kooper. The sound just wasn’t coming together and it was a mutual understanding that Kooper would leave after the album was finished.

Guitar player Ed King would quit and leave in May while on tour in Pittsburgh for this album. It would be the last album he would play on by the original band. It’s also Artimus Pyle’s first album on drums with the band. Bob Burns the original drummer had left shortly before after seeing the Exorcist and thinking he was possessed by the devil.

The album peaked at #9 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1975.

From Songfacts

This song was released on the Nuthin’ Fancy album on March 24, 1975. There are also two other recordings of this song that are on Skynyrd’s live album One More From the Road. In one if these recordings, Ronnie Van Zant forgets the song, and has to ask the back up singers (the Honketts) what the song is. On the other live version. Ronnie changes the opening lyrics to “I’m traveling down a highway, got a blue sky on my head, movin’ down this highway 500 miles away.”

Whiskey Rock-A-Roller

I’m headed down a highway got a suitcase by my side
Blue skies hangin’ over my head I got five hundred miles to ride
I’m goin’ down to Memphis town to play a late night show
I hope the people are ready there ’cause the boys are all ready to go

[Chorus]
Well, I’m a whiskey rock-a-roller
That’s what I am
Women, whiskey and miles of travelin’
Is all I understand

I was born a travelin’ man and my feets do burn the ground
I don’t care for fancy music if your shoes can’t shuffle around
I got a hundred women or more and there’s no place I call home
The only time I’m satisfied is when I’m on the road

[Chorus]
Sometimes I wonder where will we go

Lord don’t take my whiskey, rock and roll
Take me down to Memphis town, bus driver get me there
I got me a queenie she got long brown curly hair
She likes to drink old grandad and her shoes do shuffle around
And every time I see that gal
Lord she wants to take me down

[Chorus]

Sometimes I wonder where will we go
Lord don’t take my whiskey, rock and roll

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird…Epic Rock Songs Week

There is one more song coming after Free Bird…and we will finish this up.

When I was playing in clubs and bars we played mostly British rock. We didn’t know many Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. There would always be one drunk jackass person in the back that yelled “Free Bird”…it never failed! I have to admit it was funny the first few times. The song is a classic. It is one of rock’s anthems.

Like the others this week it builds up and it does have an electrifying solo to close it out. I’ve heard this live before and it is one of the great live songs you can hear.

The song was usually dedicated to Duane Allman and he died in 1971, two years before “Free Bird” was released. The song was written long before his death. The double guitar solo at the end is the same style as many early Allman Brothers songs.

Free Bird was on their debut album Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd…They gave it the title because well… they knew people would not be able to pronounce their name. The album was a very solid album and it peaked at #27 in the Billboard Album Chart, #47 in Canada, and #44 in the UK in 1973. They would soon open up for The Who on their Quadrophenia tour and that helped build their audience. 

This song began as a ballad without the guitar solos at the end, and Lynyrd Skynyrd 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 two years. 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. 

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 the Pronounced album in 1973. It ended up 9:08 minutes long.

MCA did not want this on the album. They thought it was too long and that no radio station would play it. Even the band never thought it was going to be a hit.

The song was released as a single in 1974 and peaked at #19 in the Billboard 100 adn #58 in Canada. In 1976, a live version was released from the One More For the Road live album. It peaked at #38 in the Billboard 100 and #48 in Canada. 

 

From Songfacts

Frontman Johnny Van Zant discussed this song in a track-by-track commentary to promote the band’s 2010 CD/DVD Live From Freedom Hall. He said: “For years Skynyrd has always closed the show with that song and the song has different meanings for different people. This kid was telling me that they used it for their graduation song and not too long ago somebody told me that they used it at a funeral. And really it’s a love song, its one of the few that Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ever had. It’s about a guy and a girl. Of course at the end it was dedicated to Duane Allman from the band Allman Brothers because it goes into the guitar part. If you can get through that one you’ve had a good night at a Skynyrd show.”

The lyrics are about a man explaining to a girl why he can’t settle down and make a commitment. The opening lines, “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?” were inspired by Allen Collins’ girlfriend Kathy, who had asked him this very question during a fight. 

The album version runs 9:08, with the last lyric uttered at 4:55 (“fly high, free bird, yeah”). Those last four minutes comprise perhaps the most famous instrumental passage in rock history. Skynyrd had three guitarists: Allen Collins, Ed King and Gary Rossington, allowing them to jam for extended periods long after most songs would peter out.

After the 1977 plane crash that killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, his brother, Johnny, took his place. Performing the song was very emotional for Johnny, and for a while, he wouldn’t sing it – the band played it as an instrumental and the crowd would sing the words.

This is a classic rock anthem. Shouting it out as a request at concerts became a rock and roll joke, and every now and then a musician will actually play it. The 2007 Mitch Myers book The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Storytelling explores this subject in a work of fiction about the first person ever to shout “Free Bird” at a concert.

In places, the high-pitched guitar mimics a bird flying free. This is something Duane Allman did on the 1970 Derek & the Dominos track “Layla,” where at the end he plays the “crying bird.” In that song, it signifies Layla’s untamed spirit. In “Free Bird,” the guy is the elusive one, refusing to be caged by intimacy.

Like “Free Bird,” “Layla” loses most of its mojo when cut down for single release. The full version of that song runs 7:10, with the radio edit truncated to 2:43.

Skynyrd always plays this as the last song at their shows.

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.

This Southern Rock classic was produced by a northerner: Al Kooper, who discovered the band a year earlier when they were playing a gig in Atlanta. Kooper, a founding member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, is from Brooklyn, New York, but he gelled with Skynyrd, crafting their sound for wide appeal without diluting it. He produced their next two albums as well.

Despite having three guitarists, “Free Bird” opens with an organ as the lead instrument, giving the guitars more impact when they arrive. In early versions of the song, this section was done on piano, but Al Kooper convinced the band that organ was the way to go. He played the instrument on the track, credited on the album as “Roosevelt Gook.” Kooper had the bona fides to pull it off: he came up with the organ section on Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Ronnie Van Zant thought at first that this song “had too many chords to write lyrics for.” Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington commented in an interview with Blender magazine, “But after a few months, we were sitting around, and he asked Allen to play those chords again. After about 20 minutes, Ronnie started singing, ‘If I leave here tomorrow,’ and it fit great. It wasn’t anything heavy, just a love song about leavin’ town, time to move on. Al put the organ on the front, which was a very good idea. He also helped me get the sound of the delayed slide guitar that I play – it’s actually me playing the same thing twice, recording one on top of the other, so it sounds kind of slurry, echoey.” 

In 1988, the group Will To Power went to #1 in America with a mellow medley of this song and Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way.” The official title of that track is “Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby).”

While the lyrics contain the phrase “free as a bird,” the title itself (“Free Bird”) is used just once, right before the guitar solos begin: “Won’t you fly high, free bird.” 

Free Bird

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelin’ on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see

But if I stay here with you, girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change
Lord knows, I can’t change

Bye-bye baby, it’s been sweet love, yeah yeah
Though this feelin’ I can’t change
Please don’t take it so badly
‘Cause Lord knows, I’m to blame

If I stay here with you girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change

Lord knows, I can’t change
Lord help me, I can’t change
Lord, I can’t change
Won’t you fly high, free bird yeah

Lynyrd Skynyrd – The Needle And The Spoon…Drug Reference Week

This song has a cool walk down intro along with some harmonics. I like the dynamics of the song when it kicks in.

This one has gotten some significant FM play in my region. It was written by Allen Collins and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant…Van Zant was warning about the dangers of hardcore drugs, which the band was just learning about.

The song was on their sophomore offering Second Helping. The album had their biggest hit, Sweet Home Alabama. They released their debut album the year before and their fan base was growing after opening up on The Who’s Quadrophenia tour. The album peaked at #12 in the Billboard Album Chart and #9 in Canada.

In the 2015 edition of Guitar World Magazine, the solo to this song was listed as the #19 best of all time.

 

The Needle and The Spoon

Thirty days, Lord, and thirty nights
I’m coming home on an airplane flight
Mama waiting at the ticket line
Tell me son, why do you stand there cryin’?

It was the needle and the spoon
And a trip to the moon
Took me away
Took me away

I’ve been feeling so sick inside
Got to get better, Lord, before I die
Some doctors couldn’t help my head, they said
You’d better quit, son, before you’re dead

Quit the needle, quit the spoon
Quit the trip to the moon
They gonna take you away
Lord, they gonna take you away

It was the needle and the spoon

I’ve seen a lot of people who thought they were cool
But then again, Lord, I’ve seen a lot of fools
I hope you people, Lord, can hear what I say
You’ll have your chance to hit it some day

Don’t mess with a needle or a spoon
Or a trip to the moon
They’ll take you away

Lord, their gonna bury you boy
Don’t mess with the needle
Now I know, I know, I know, I know, I know

Lynyrd Skynyrd – The Ballad of Curtis Loew

Curtis Loew is not the name of an actual person from Ronnie Van Zant’s life. Curtis Loew is a composite of different people, including Skynyrd lead guitarist Ricky Medlocke’s grandfather, Shorty Medlocke. Despite the song’s lyrics, Shorty was not black.

When Ed King was writing the liner notes for the Second Helping album, he decided to name the character after Loew’s Theater thus giving an old bluesman a Jewish name.

Personally, I think it’s one of their best songs. It has an old feel about it and the slide is perfect.

Many bands go into the studio without complete songs written and work on them in there. The two bands I’ve read about that were ready when they walked into a studio were this band and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Ronnie Van Zant ran the band with an iron fist and they were rehearsed like crazy. If someone missed a note on stage…it would not be a happy time afterward.

This song was on their second album Second Helping. Their first two albums were great and the next few dipped a bit but they came back strong with their last studio album Street Survivors.

Since the song mentions a dobro…A dobro is a resonator guitar with a mechanical amplifier. It was originally released in 1927. Gibson now owns the rights to the dobro guitar.

Ref:# 00559 - This is a very beautiful 1973 Dobro Model M-66S (S ...

They had many great album cuts and this is one of them. It never was released as a single but remains on the playlist of classic rock stations.

The Ballad of Curtis Loew

Well, I used to wake the mornin’
Before the rooster crowed
Searchin’ for soda bottles
To get myself some dough
Brought ’em down to the corner
Down to the country store
Cash ’em in, and give my money
To a man named Curtis Loew

Old Curt was a black man
With white curly hair
When he had a fifth of wine
He did not have a care
He used to own an old Dobro
Used to play it ‘cross his knee
I’d give old Curt my money
He’d play all day for me

Play me a song
Curtis Loew, Curtis Loew
Well, I got your drinkin’ money
Tune up your Dobro
People said he was useless
Them people all were fools
‘Cause Curtis Loew was the finest picker
To ever play the blues

He looked to be sixty
And maybe I was ten
Mama used to whoop me
But I’d go see him again
I’d clap my hands, stomp my feet
Try to stay in time
He’d play me a song or two
Then take another drink of wine

Play me a song
Curtis Loew, Curtis Loew
Well, I got your drinkin’ money
Tune up your Dobro
People said he was useless
Them people all were fools
‘Cause Curtis Loew was the finest picker
To ever play the blues

Yes, sir

On the day old Curtis died
Nobody came to pray
Ol’ preacher said some words
And they chunked him in the clay
Well, he lived a lifetime
Playin’ the black man’s blues
And on the day he lost his life
That’s all he had to lose

Play me a song
Curtis Loew, hey Curtis Loew
I wish that you was here so
Everyone would know
People said he was useless
Them people all were fools
‘Cause Curtis you’re the finest picker
To ever play the blues

Lynyrd Skynyrd – I Never Dreamed—- Sunday Album Cut

On Sundays, I am going to start posting a good album cut.

When I think of forgotten great album cuts…this one is one of the first songs that come to mind. If you haven’t heard it give it a try. The song has a good riff starting out and the arrangement of the melody is a little different than some of their previous songs. I credit that to new guitarist Steve Gaines… Gaines and Van Zant wrote this song.

Give this song a try…The song takes a while to get going but the melody, guitar work, and the bass are great in this one.

Steve joined the band as a guitarist in 1976. Gaines had an immediate impact, writing or co-writing four of the eight songs on Street Survivors, which was released three days before the group’s plane crashed in Mississippi, killing Gaines, his sister Cassie (a backup singer with the group) and Van Zant.

It is my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd song hands down. The band never played this live…the original or the new edition.

Street Survivors peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1977.

I Never Dreamed

My daddy told me always be strong son
Don’t you ever cry
You find the pretty girls, and then you love them
And then you say goodbye
I never dreamed that you would leave me
But now you’re gone
I never dreamed that I would miss you
Woman won’t you come back home

I never dreamed that you could hurt me
And leave me blue
I’ve had a thousand, maybe more
But never one like you
I never dreamed I could feel so empty
But now I’m down
I never dreamed that I would beg you
But woman I need you now

It seems to me, I took your love for granted
It feels to me, this time I was wrong, so wrong
Oh Lord, how I feel so lonely
I said woman, won’t you come back home

I tried to do what my daddy taught me,
But I think he knew
Someday I would find
One woman like you
I never dreamed it could feel so good Lord
That two could be one
I never knew about sweet love
So woman won’t you come back home
Oh baby won’t you come back home

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – What’s Your Name

I always thought this was one of the most commercial songs they ever released. It is a fun tight song but yes it has been played to death.

Ronnie Van Zant and Gary Rossington wrote this one night when they were in Miami with Steve Cropper and producer Tom Dowd. Cropper, the guitarist for the Stax Records band Booker T. & the MG’s, gave them some ideas.

They had a well-deserved reputation for being a hard-partying band. This song is based on a true story. One night while they were on tour, the band was drinking at their hotel bar when one of the roadies got in a fight. They all got kicked out, went to a room, ordered champagne, and continued the party.

The incident also really didn’t happen in Boise, Idaho. The first line was originally, “It’s 8 o’clock and boys it’s time to go,” but Ronnie Van Zant changed it when he found out his brother, Donnie, was opening his first national tour with his band .38 Special in Boise. The first line became It’s 8 o’clock in Boise, Idaho.

The song was on the album Street Survivors…their last studio album with the original band. They were in a plane crash just days after the release of the album.

The song peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100 and #6 in Canada in 1978.

Street Survivors peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1977.

From Songfacts

Three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash just three days after this album was released. The album had to be given a new cover because the original one portrayed the group surrounded by flames.

This was released as a single in January 1978, a few months after the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines.

The B-52s reached #74 in 1980 with “Private Idaho,” but “What’s Your Name” is the biggest hit song to mention the state in the lyric.

What’s Your Name

Well, its eight o’clock in Boise, Idaho
I’ll find my limo driver
Mister, take us to the show
I done made some plans for later on tonight
I’ll find a little queen
And I know I can treat her right

What’s your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
Won’t you do the same?

Back at the hotel
Lord we got such a mess
It seems that one of the crew
Had a go with one of the guests, oh yes
Well, the police said we can’t drink in the bar, what a shame
Won’t you come upstairs girl
And have a drink of champagne

What’s your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
For there ain’t no shame

What’s your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
Won’t you do the same? Awh yeah

What’s your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
Won’t you do the same?

Nine o’clock the next day
And I’m ready to go
I got six hundred miles to ride
To do one more show, oh no
Can I get you a taxi home
It sure was grand
When I come back here next year
I want to see you again

What was your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
Well there ain’t no shame
What was your name, little girl?
What’s your name?
Shootin’ you straight, little girl?
Won’t you do the same? Woo

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – I Know A Little

The reason I like this song is caught in the intro. The guitar in this is a lot of fun. Unlike most Lynyrd Skynyrd songs this one was not partly written by Ronnie Van Zant. The new guitar player Steve Gaines wrote this before he joined them.

Gaines replaced Ed King as the band’s guitarist in 1976, but died in the 1977 plane crash that also claimed the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and Gaines’ sister Cassie, who was a backup singer for the group. This song provides a glimpse of songwriting and guitar talent.

Steve Gaines was a special talent. I personally believe he would have gone far in music outside of that band. There is guitar playing on Street Survivors that you never heard with that band before. Very sophisticated chord patterns and riffs with songs like “I Never Dreamed.”

This song was the B side to What’s Your Name.

From Songfacts

You won’t find diatribes on the complexities of interpersonal relationships in the Skynyrd catalog, but you will find simple explanations. This song is a great example.

Why do people get the blues? From digging what they can’t use. And if you want to hold on to a man, a good way to do it is through commitment. You only need to know a little about love – the rest you can guess.

This is a great example of Skynyrd guitarist Steve Gaines’ contributions to the band. He wrote the song himself, and also wrote or co-wrote three other songs on the album. as Van Zant sings about a guy who has a strong feeling that his girl is cheating on him.

Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington told Guitar School magazine, July 1993, that he’d never heard anybody, including the current guitarists in the band, play the picking on this song quite right – the way Steve Gaines did.

This is one of many Skynyrd songs that was never released as a single but endured as a classic track in their catalog. It earned lots of airplay on Classic Rock radio and became one of their most popular live songs, performed at most of their shows when they re-grouped after the plane crash.

Steve Gaines recorded this before he joined Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I Know A Little

Yes sir

Well the bigger the city, well the brighter the lights
The bigger the dog, well the harder the bite
I don’t know where you been last night
But I think mama, you ain’t doin’ right

Say I know a little
I know a little about it
I know a little
I know a little ’bout it
I know a little ’bout love
And baby I can guess the rest

Well now I don’t read that daily news
‘Cause it ain’t hard to figure
Where people get the blues
They can’t dig what they can’t use
If they stick to themselves
They’d be much less abused

Say I know a little
Lord I do know a little about it
I know a little
I know a little ’bout it
I know a little ’bout love
Baby I can guess the rest
Play me a little, oh yeah
Yeah

Well if you want me to be your only man
Said listen up mama, teach you all I can
Do right baby, by your man
Don’t worry mama, teach you all I can

Say I know a little
Lord I do know a little about it
I know a little
I know a little ’bout it
I know a little ’bout love
Baby I can guess the rest
Well I know a little ’bout love
Baby I want your best

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

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Gimme Back My Bullets

Because of where I live I have heard this band…a lot. Some songs though I still like and this is one of them. The guitar riff is mean and dangerous… The bullets Ronnie Van Zant is referring to are bullets in the music charts…as in #1 with a bullet. It had been a while since they charted and he wanted more.

Fans started throwing bullets and other objects on stage when they performed this song. They had to take it out of their setlist because they were afraid someone was going to get hurt.

Ronnie’s voice is on point in this one. He was a very good songwriter and used his voice well. He didn’t have the best voice around BUT…he knew his limitations and got everything out of it with more feeling than many singers with a richer voice.

The song was off of the album Gimme Back My Bullets which peaked at #20 in 1976.

From Songfacts

This song was about regaining dominance on the music charts, but Gimme Back My Bullets was the weakest selling album of Skynyrd’s career to that point. It was their fourth release, and the first produced by the famous Atlantic Records engineer Tom Dowd, who was allowed to produce two bands outside of Atlantic every year (Skynyrd was on MCA).

This was never released as a single. The only single from the album was the non-charting “Double Trouble.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded this with only two lead guitarists: Allen Collins and Gary Rossington. Third lead guitarist Ed King had left just before making this album. When this album didn’t sell as well as expected, another guitarist, Steve Gaines, was brought in.

Gimme Back My Bullets

Life is so strange when its changin’, yes indeed 
Well I’ve seen the hard times and the pressure’s been on me 
But I keep on workin’ like the workin’ man do 
And I’ve got my act together, gonna walk all over you 

[Chorus] 
Gimme back my bullets 
Put ’em back where they belong 
Ain’t foolin’ around ’cause I done had my fun 
Ain’t gonna see no more damage done 
Gimme back my bullets 

Sweet talkin’ people done ran me out of town 
And I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around 
But I’m leavin’ this game one step ahead of you 
And you will not hear me cry ’cause I do not sing the blues 

[Chorus] 
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets 
Oh, put ’em back…where they belong 

Been up and down since I turned seventeen 
Well I’ve been on top, and then it seems I lost my dream 
But I got it back, I’m feelin’ better everyday 
Tell all those pencil pushers, better get out of my way 

[Chorus] 
Gimme back, gimme back my bullets 
Oh put ’em back where they belong 
Gimme back my bullets

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd – 42 Years Ago Today

It’s been 42 years since Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. The band had just released the album “Street Survivors” and it was probably their best well-rounded album. With new guitarist Steve Gaines, they were primed for commercial success but on October 20, 1977, they lost singer-songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines, and road manager Dean Kilpatrick. The plane crash also claimed the lives of pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr.

A year earlier Steve Gaines joined the band and he was pushing them in directions they never had gone. Listening to “Street Survivors” you can hear his influence with songs I Never Dreamed and I Know A Little. Steve was a  super talented guitarist, songwriter, and singer and I have to wonder where his career would have gone.

On this tour, they were headlining and moving up in status after years of touring as mostly an opening band.

Below is a good Rolling Stone article on the crash. The song below that is “I Never Dreamed,” a song heavily influenced by Gaines.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/remembering-lynyrd-skynyrds-deadly-1977-plane-crash-2-195371/

 

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