I currently play bass for two cover bands. Any musician that joins a cover band enters with full knowledge that they are going to be required to play music they don’t particularly like. Personally, I’m game for just about anything but my personal line of demarcation is Freebird.
I’m not alone in my dislike of this Lynyrd Skynrd song; ask any bar band and you’re likely to find at least one member who is not a fan. Its a cliche yelled out by drunken patrons, the post 60s version of “Melancholy Baby”. As another bass player once said, its a guitarist wankfest, a nine minute drawn out and unimaginative solo done in unison by several guitarists. For the rhythm section it can be really, really tiresome.
But, for me there are more personal reasons why I hate this song.
I went to high school in the late 1970s. By the spring of 1980, due to the untimely death of the core of Skynyrd in a plane crash three years prior, you would have had to live in an isolated cave to avoid hearing their brand of Southern rock on the radio. The live version of “Freebird” from One More For the Road, was on heavy rotation on every rock station out of New York City.
And my best friend and I were the only ones of our high school friends not going to the prom.
In hindsight, this was not the end of the world, but at the time, it was fairly devastating. We did have the moxie not to sit at home crying in our Cokes. Instead, we headed out that Friday night to a local restaurant known for not carding and ordered a big pitcher of Sangria and got pleasantly buzzed. Afterwards, we sat in a nearby park, listening to the radio and wondering when we would get our chance to be swans, and why we seemed to be the square pegs in a round world. And then the following question issued from the car’s speakers
“What song is it you wanna hear?
With all the frustration of two girls not going to the prom, of not quite fitting in and with the strong desire to shove all four years of high school burning down to hell, we yelled
“SURE THE FUCK AIN’T FREEBIRD!!!”
And that my friends, is why I will never play Freebird. Ever.