Monday, July 22, 2013

Song Meaning: Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd

ARTIST: Lynyrd Skynyrd | ALBUM: Pronounced 'lĕh-'nérd 'skin-'nérd | RELEASED: 1973
With "Free Bird", Lynyrd Skynyrd proved, for once, they were capable of letting go of their redneck, backward thinking mentality demonstrated in "Sweet Home Alabama."

However there was still some "Southerness" left behind, unfortunately, as seen on the promotional poster of the song. Lynyrd just can't let go of the Confederate Flag for some reason.

With respect to this particular song, it's about a man reluctantly leaving his "sweet love" behind. The lyrics were written in first person's point of view. As to why he's leaving his love behind isn't adequately defined in the lyrics but it's always fun to speculate. So let's me proceed to do so: keep the Southern culture in mind, the main character ( the male ) discussed in this song is changing his mind about his sister in favor of another sister. Yes, that's correct. In the South, marriage between brothers and sisters were commonplace.

The person ( main character ) is singing the song though the eyes of a free bird. "For I must be traveling on, now, / Cause there's too many places I've got to see" gives me the impression that the person wants to be free of the cage in which he's confined in - the "cagey" relationship with his beloved sister. "Many places I've got to see" definitely means another person, perhaps another lover. This is a nice use of an analogy - credit where credit is due.

One interesting thing I noticed in this song use of Lord - it's referenced four times. The definition of Lord is vastly different among numerous people, even within those who in the US, but for Southerns it definitely means Jesus and Bible. So why does Lynyrd Skynyrd make use of Jesus here? It's somewhat abrupt for, what seems to be, a love song. Well, this is their way of reaching out to the Southerners. One thing you need to know about them is that they love is going to church, besides hating Black people. We see this today among politicians who use Jesus just to get such people into voting for them, especially on the Republican aisle. In fact, the Republicans' overuse of religion was mocked by Bill O'Reilly on Fox News.

Beside the lyrics, much of the song's popularity is attributed it's solo. It's a good solo, go listen to it.

This is what I think of this song. Let me know what you like/dislike about my analysis, and the song as well. 

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.

Bye, bye, its been a sweet love.
Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it badly,
'Cause Lord knows I'm to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you'll never change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.

Lyrics from: http://www.lyrics007.com/Lynyrd%20Skynyrd%20Lyrics/Freebird%20Lyrics.html

17 comments:

  1. I like this portrayal of the song, but the story I was always told growing up was that it was for the original band members that were killed in the plane crash. Van zants older brother was one of the members killed.

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    1. I was always told and heard in ronnies voice its about freedom in this country. As free as a bird. I love this song. Its so beautiful and haunting.

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    2. If you notice, this song was written in 1972. Plane ctashed 1977. Check your facts! Ronnie was quoted as saying Free Bird was dedicated in part to his friend Duane Allman who died in 1970 or 1971. Allen Collins also wrote part of it referring to a former girlfriend. Any this incest b.s. had nothing to do with it!

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  2. Dude, us southerners don't marry our siblings. I have lived in Williston Florida my whole life, it is a small farming town. I know everyone, no one here or in Florida (To my knowledge) is insest. Please take your racist, prejudice and disrespectful interpretations elsewhere. How about living in the south before saying things like that.

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    1. I agree this is really this is a really negative, disrespectful, and stereotypical view of the South. You may not get it if you aren't from the South, and you probably never will. To the author, before you judge our culture, our history, and our music, perhaps you should let go of your preconceived notions. Not everyone here is a redneck/inbred/uneducated, etc. The author should apologize for this disrespect of our culture.

      The confederate flag in Lynard's time meant something different than it does today. It isn't a hate symbol, but more of a cultural identity. People in the South sometimes refer to it more commonly as a "rebel flag", which I think is more indicative of what they perceive it to mean.

      Finally, I think you over analyze the use of "Lord" here. While it is true that religion is deeply ingrained in the south, the word "Lord" is frequently used in many colloquialisms in the South (e.g. "Lord help me", "Lord knows", etc.). While they may be religious in origin, they are colloquial in use, as this song has zero religious overtures.

      Southern culture helped define an important subgenre of Rock music, and should be interpreted by someone with an appreciation rather than a disdain of said culture. I suggest you apologize and rethink your preconceived notions about a culture that you obviously don't appreciate/understand.

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    2. Dear Anonymous,
      Thank you for eloquently stating my thoughts. David Thomson's analysis was for the birds, IMO.

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  3. I think David needs some professional help.

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  4. Oh for Pete's sake, this is the biggest collection of garbage masquerading as a song analysis I have read in a long time. "Marry their siblings"? WHERE did you come up with that crap? On the internet? Dude, you really need to get out more. It would behoove you to live life a little bit before you throw an interpretation out there.

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  5. Yes Free bird is for the band members that list their lives. And yes you are also right Ronnie is on a home movie and talking about freedom. Ronnie loved to fish and get away. That sick excuse of a person saying things he don't know nothing about. Just to put southern people down. These wonderful people that has influence people life in a good way. And the meaning of the band songs you need to lurn! Because the got true touching meaning to Ronnie! He is missed and was loved by fans And his wife and daughters. The band. And you think you have the right to say something about anybody in this Band. the hell they been threw. But By The Grace Of God They are Still with us! You need to pass judgment on yourself before you start to try putting people down. You thinking that way. Are you guilty being with your sister. It takes someone with a sick mind to think like you. And yes he does need help. I just pray their is not a young girl or child around him.

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  6. Maybe it could be a song about a man leaving his woman because he had other thoughts. Anyone remember the song Cinderella . About the man not wanting his child as he wanted no ties. Free bird mto me is about him leaving his love to move on. What's wrong with some if ya all. Incest is not the answer here. In fact really in odd left field. Skynard was more talented than that. And not every song is politically infused. I for one. Feel skynard was /and is an all time great southern rock back. Loved them then love em now. Ozark mountain festival broke open their popularity . And it hasn't faded much. Still love em 9

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  7. I agree with the negative comments about this song analysis. I am a born and raised 'Yankee' living in the south for the last 17 years, am over 50. An not a southern Baptist and am a Democrat. Now I do not agree with some of the southern way of thinking,
    but southerners are NOT the crass backwords people you make them out to be, or at least not many of them (and the type of people that are can be found in any/all states).

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  8. I interpret this song as a man that keeps moving from relationship to relationship(because he's not good at long term)...letting go, but not wanting the women to let go.

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  9. I have 2 possible explanations for the meaning of the lyrics of FreeBird.

    The first is that could be a poetic presentation of the thoughts of a person after dying in the Vietnam war. The 1970's were characterized to a large extent by suffering associated with the Vietnam war. And popular music contained many references to a popular objection to the war. "If I stayed, things could not be the same" could be a reference to a sorrowful acceptance of leaving lovers and friends on the earthly plane. The reference to "Lord" is what made me think of this possible interpretation, and it could be a desire to go to heaven. The poetry is beautiful and if this is what it means, I see the lyrics as a very effective presentation.

    A variation on this theme is an idea that the lyrics could be the ruminations of someone considering moving to Canada to escape the draft. I am not suggesting that any of the band members were in this position, however many americans did move to Canada in the 1970's

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  10. I would also like to point out that Free Bird came before Sweet Home Alabama, so your credibility was shot from the first sentence.

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  11. I hear this song and think of my mom and dad who are no longer with me. Mom died 4 years ago and dad 18 years ago. Now they are free as birds.

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  12. This is the truth. The phrase "if I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me" inspired the song, and was said during a fight with Allen Collins by his girlfriend Kathy, who would later become his wife. It's the anthem of men who aren't ready to make a commitment, and believe they are free, and pretend to be free--but they are not. If they were going to leave they'd just go, not rap about it. The "Free Bird" anthem resonates with me because I am the cat who walks by myself and all places are alike to me. I don't advertise when I'm moving on.

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  13. Was this about the song or just to see how many made up things about southerners he could come up with?

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