'Freebird' at 35: a Joke and a Classic

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2009 6:48 PM CDT
Lynyrd Skynyrd in 2005.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" is 35 years old now, and in the course of its life, the song "has been an anthem, a demand, an ode to personal independence, the lamest heckle in the history of rock," writes Christopher Borelli in the Chicago Tribune. "But what it has never been is forgettable." Borelli tries to return a little "dignity" to the song, which is still shouted out to disparate bands as a prank request to this day.

“Someone yells it as a joke, I'm in that room, I'll punch them in the mouth,” says former Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle. “That's no joke. My friends died living out that song.” One modern rocker sums up the song's predicament: "I feel like I could write you a dissertation in defense of it as being one of the most underrated songs in rock history and I could write about its utter banality, and in both papers I would be sincere."