This is why Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Free Bird' is so long

News 08/09/2019

In a new interview Gary Rossington, founder of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd,  explains why the band's iconic 'Free Bird' track got longer and longer.

Rossington recalled that the song had a very difficult development when singer Ronnie Van Zant was struggling with guitarist Allen Collins' composition. It took a long time before the duo found a middle ground.

Rossington also told UCR Nights that Collins had the chords all written and he was trying to get Ronnie to write the lyrics to the song. "Ronnie thought there was too many chord changes. So it took about two or three weeks of Allen playing the chords around. Then one day [Van Zant] just went, 'Hey, play that again.' That's what he'd do – if something caught his ear, he'd go, 'Play that a few times.' But it would really be a half-hour, an hour he'd play it,"

Rossington reminisced that the theme of the song would be about love. He explained, "A real simple love song about leaving – you know, 'Would you remember me?' It’s a true story about him. He wrote it really quick."

"With just jamming and playing, it got longer and longer and longer as we played it," he said. "At first it didn't have the end, the long guitar end; it was just the slow love song. Then we came up with the end, and as we practised every day, it came along."