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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Lynyrd Skynyrd – 41 Years Ago

It’s been 41 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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Al Kooper: Backstage Passes Backstabbing Bastards

This is an autobiography of Al Kooper. Al has worked with many people in the music industry. He was a songwriter, musician, producer, A&R man and everything in between.

His book is well written and Al uses humor all the way through.

A few of his career highlights are helping to form Blood, Sweat, and Tears, playing the organ on “Like a Rolling Stone” (although he didn’t know how to really play organ), organized the Super Sessions with Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield, found and signed a band while in Atlanta named Lynyrd Skynyrd. While in Atlanta he started a record label called “Sounds of the South” in conjunction with MCA records.

He goes over working with Lynyrd Skynyrd and how their first three albums were recorded and why they parted company. Another band that he signed was Mose Jones who was going to be his Beatles type group to counterpoint the Lynyrd Skynyrd Stones sound for his label. Mose Jones ended up being ignored my MCA.

There is so much musical history this man was involved in…he makes light of getting called Alice Cooper on many occasions.

In Al Kooper’s words 

Let’s clear the air.
This is not a book by or about Vincent Furnier (né Alice Cooper.) It is a book by and about Al Kooper. If you don’t know who Al Kooper is, that’s fine. But don’t let that stop you from perusing these eye-opening accounts of encounters with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Gene Pitney, The Royal Teens, Bill Graham, Quincy Jones, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Mike Bloomfield, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, Miles Davis, The Tubes, Nils Lofgren, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and all the other wonderful people I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with over the last forty years.

What was really interesting to me is he shared the same manager (Stan Polley) as Badfinger and was able to get out of his clutches with at least some of his money intact. I picked the book up cheap and I really have enjoyed it. I would recommend this to music fans. Many funny stories and he is such a talented musician.

Another quote from Kooper on the Like A Rolling Stone Session… Tom Wilson was the producer who knew Kooper didn’t normally play the organ.

Thirty seconds into the second verse of the playback, Dylan motioned toward Tom Wilson. “Turn the organ up,” he ordered. “Hey, man,” Tom said, “that cat’s not an organ player.” Thanks, Tom. But Dylan wasn’t buying it: “Hey, now don’t tell me who’s an organ player and who’s not. Just turn the organ up.” He actually liked what he heard!

Al Kooper and Bob Dylan

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George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, and Al Kooper

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Jimi Hendrix and Al Kooper

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Al Kooper…he wanted to set the record straight

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Oddest Concert Pairings

I have always liked odd mixtures. Anything out of the norm and I pay attention. That is why I blog about the past more than today. I liked the 60’s and 70’s era because houses, cars, and music were for the most part unique. I couldn’t tell a Ford from a Chevy today. A lot of new houses look just alike in cloned neighborhoods.

I would have loved to have been at one of these concerts.

Jimi Hendrix / Monkees 1967 – This is number one on my list. Can you imagine the young Monkee fans hearing the sonic volume of Jimi Hendrix? Jimi had to play while a bunch of 12-year-old girls screamed “We want the Monkees” and “We want Davy. ” It was the sixties and Peter Tork said: “It didn’t cross anybody’s mind that it wasn’t gonna fly.”

The Who / Herman Hermits 1967 – Smash your guitars and drums and Hope I die before I get Old and then Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter?… You can imagine Peter Noone tripping over shards of guitars every night.

Lynyrd Skynyrd / Queen 1974 – This one is a head-scratcher. The theatrical Queen and the southern boys from Florida just don’t seem a great match. Roger Taylor of Queen had some ugly things to say about Lynyrd Skynyrd later on.

Bruce Springsteen / Anne Murray 1974 – This one is baffling. Anne Murray’s managers demanded that Bruce open the show for Anne in NYC! They argued she was more successful and she was…but this was New York and Bruce Springsteen…what a fatal mistake…halfway through Bruce’s set Anne’s managers regretted their decision. Many of the audience had left by the time Anne took the stage.

The Ramones/Toto 1979 – This one doesn’t make sense at all…what promoter thought this through? The laid-back ToTo fans sat through the Ramones but Toto singer Bobby Kimball, came out and apologized to the crowd for the “horrible band” they had to sit through.

Cher/Gregg Allman 1977 – Yes they were married but what an odd concert to go to. You have Gregg who was one of the best blues singers at that time and Cher…who was Cher…Gregg Allman mentions in his book “My Cross to Bear” that the audience was mixed…some with tuxedos and some with denim jackets and backpacks and there were fights at each show on the tour between the two sets of fans.

Gregg Allman

“It was right after that—the tuxedos against the backpacks, because I think the Allman Brothers outnumbered the Sonny and Chers—that Cher came to me, and the poor thing was just crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me, “We’ve got to cancel the rest of the tour, because I can’t stand the fighting.” So we ended it right then, which was about halfway through it. We went home the next day, and that was the last time I ever played with her.”

The Ramones / Ted Nugent, Aerosmith 1979 – Bottles and debris were thrown at The Ramones from the crowd as Johnny Ramone was shooting birds at the audience. 

Johnny Ramone about this concert…

“About five or six songs into the set, the whole crowd stood up, and I thought it had started to rain. Dee Dee thought the same thing, but they were throwing stuff at us – sandwiches, bottles, everything. Then, all of a sudden, I broke two strings on my guitar in one strum. I thought it was a sign from God to get off the stage, because I’d rarely break a string, maybe once a year. So I just walked to the front of the stage, stopped playing, and gave the audience the finger – with both hands. I stood there like that, flipping them off, with both hands out, and walked off. The rest of the band kept playing for another ten or fifteen seconds until they’d realized I was walking off, and then they did too. I wasn’t gonna stand there and be booed and have stuff thrown at us without retaliating in some way. We had to come off looking good somehow, and there was no good way to get out of that.”

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