Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird: Torture Or Masterpiece?

Free Bird is epic.

-- Mack Rawden

From the easily recognizable opening piano chords to the multiple solos in all their glory, "Free Bird" embodies everything epic and beautiful about heartfelt Southern Rock. It is one of the greatest songs ever written across any genre, and that is not an opinion. It is a certifiable fact.

Incredible drum work? Check. Beautiful piano intro? Yes. Mind-bending guitar solos and Ronnie Van Zant's incredible voice work? Yup and yup. "Free Bird" has everything you could possibly want spread across fourteen minutes of heaven on Earth. If it provided ample shelter and a stocked refrigerator, I would probably just live inside of it forever.

The reason so many people are able to relate to "Free Bird" is because it is so hauntingly human. After you strip away all of the drums, slide guitars, and cheering fans, you're left with nothing more than a wounded man admitting that music will always take precedence over the ones he loves. The pain of losing the ones you love almost oozes out of the speakers; yet, you can't help but smile as Van Zant sings "this bird you cannot change."

Sure, it's become astoundingly cliche for a bunch of douche bags to scream "Free Bird" at rock concerts, sporting events, and funerals, but I don't understand how that has any baring on the song itself. Every semi-illiterate moron in the world credits The Catcher In The Rye as their favorite book, but you don't hear literary snobs complaining about how it's overrated. So why the hell do music snobs do it for "Free Bird"?

Lynyrd Skynyrd is the quintessential Southern Rock band (sorry Allman Brothers). "Free Bird" is their magnum opus, and it will live on in the hearts and ear drums of millions of music fans who know a great song when they hear it.

Fee Bird is torture.

-- Michael Fraiman

You don’t know torture until you’ve played “Free Bird” in Guitar Hero.

That song is so painstakingly redundant and arduous that it’s turned me off Lynyrd Skynyrd for at least a few years. And it’s not even that it’s a bad song—it’s just that it’s so unnecessarily long and utterly uninteresting at all until the solo.

Granted, the solo is impressive—to say the least. It’s one of the best pieces of guitar playing people have ever heard, musically and technically. But that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy listening to guitarist Allen Collins musically masturbate worse than Pee Wee Herman in public.

I’ll admit to once having loved the song. I liked it a lot back in grade 9, when I was just discovering classic rock and, consequently, Skynyrd themselves. But then I stopped listening to it, not because it’s actually a bad song (it isn’t), but because “Free Bird” has a lifespan. I think every youth, as a rite of passage, must listen to “Free Bird”, be amazed, then get bored with it because it’s not the type of song you can listen to more than five times a year.

It just so happens that the track came back to haunt me in Guitar Hero II and, as karma would have it, owned me profusely and deservingly. Now I just plain don’t like it. Now it’s just personal.

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