Lynyrd Skynyrd “Simple Man” – Ronnie Fought To Get It On The Album
“We just put down in a song what our mama or grandma had said to us. They really wrote it, we just played it.” – Gary Rossington on Lynyrd Skynyrd “Simple Man.” – from the Paul Ingles interview.
It’s hard to believe, but Ronnie Van Zant and Garry Rossington wrote Lynyrd Skynyrd “Simple Man” in about an hour. Ronnie had recently lost his grandmother and Gary had lost his mother. “Simple Man” began with Ronnie and Gary sharing stories of these women and dealing with their grief and loss. Gary came up with the chord progression and Ronnie wrote the lyrics based on the advice they received from these women over the years.
Producer Al Kooper Didn’t Want “Simple Man” On The Album
Lynyrd Skynyrd had been around for several years but had yet to land an album deal when Al Kooper came on the scene. Al Kooper (founding member of Blood Sweat and Tears) heard the band in Atlanta and signed them to his label. He also produced Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first three albums and was the one who suggested keyboards rather than piano on “Free Bird.”
When it came to “Simple Man,” Al felt the song wasn’t strong enough to make the cut. According to Gary Rossington, Ronnie and Kooper had some words over this and Ronnie told Al, “Go take a couple days off and come back.” until they finished recording the song. Al did record the organ part eventually, but he recorded it separately from the rest of the song. After Al saw how much the fans loved the song, he admitted he was wrong about “Simple Man.”
Gary Rossington Talking About Lynyrd Skynyrd “Simple Man”
“Simple Man” was on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album. The fact that Ronnie stuck up for this song and fought for what he thought was right for the band’s music is pretty amazing. Most artists work to get more control over their music as they release more albums, but on a debut album, they just hope for the best.
By all accounts, “Simple Man” was how Ronnie lived his life. Family and friends were valued over money and what it could get you. Even after the band broke out, Ronnie maintained these values.
Which Lyryrd Skynyrd songs are your favorites? Which do you consider to be their best?
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