Freebird!

Tonight, to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, my family and I went out to a supper club-type of a restaurant. It’s the kind of a place where, leaving the servers and waitstaff aside, my presence in the place brought the average age down considerably. But they wouldn’t still be in business if the food wasn’t good, and I’m happy to help keep them going on occasion.

There was some background music playing, but the conversational tones of the restaurant’s patrons drowned it out unless someone was really listening for it. After a couple of songs, the opening bars of Freebird by Lynrd Skynrd came on. I love the song, but it seemed strangely out of place with the restaurant’s octogenarian clientele. But nobody said anything, and I was thus treated to several minutes of tasty guitar jams. How could anyone complain about that?

Any live band, whenever they go on stage, has to be ready for somebody to call for Freebird! to be played. I once called out for it to a two-man folk duo playing in East Lansing, Michigan and, to my great delight, they played the song as I had requested. Everybody probably wants to hear Freebird at some point, and bands should prepare themselves for that.

The band that originally wrote the song played a show in Chicago last Friday night. I can’t know this for sure, but I’ll guess that they’ve rarely played a concert without “Freebird!” being called out from the audience. The song was written almost 40 years ago, and that’s a lot of times that the song has been played. If the band were to walk out on stage, play Freebird for a half an hour (and I’m sure that’s been done, at some point) and then walk offstage, I can’t imagine too many people would object. The song is that powerful, all these years later.

I didn’t make it to the Skynrd show last weekend, since the chance to see Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley Field was too much to pass up, and my concert budget only goes so far. I have no doubt it was a great experience for those who were in attendance, and I wanted to take a moment and comment on the song and its well-established place in the canon of rock and roll. And if tonight’s crowd at the supper club didn’t firmly agree, at least they went along with it.

Lord help me, I can’t chay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-aynge…..

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