Lynyrd Skynyrd

Free Bird

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Is there a reason that concert-goers around the world insist on requesting "Free Bird" even in the quiet moments at every band's gig? Is that joke even funny anymore? Or could it be that "Free Bird" (aka "Son of Stairway") is actually a good song? And is there anyone in the world who hasn't heard it? If it's possible to listen with fresh ears, one might find there's one heck of a song buried underneath all nine minutes and its attendant legend. "Free Bird" was originally intended as a tribute to the deceased Allman Brothers Band guitarist, Duanne Allman, its funereal organ beginning setting the tone. In later years, the song's mythology was fueled when three of the bandmembers died in a fiery plane crash in 1977, including lead singer Ronnie Van Zant. The first line, "If I should leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me," served as a requiem not only for Allman, but for the original band. By song's end, the "Free Bird" is in fact, well, free, as the triple guitar attack explodes into the stratosphere. The song, taken from the band's 1973 Al Kooper-produced debut, Pronounced Leh'nerd Skin-Nerd, is a standard-bearer, not only in the power ballad triumvirate of heavy-hitters ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Dream On" being the other two), but in the Southern rock canon (check the Outlaws' copycat "Green Grass and High Tides"). The live version of the song, taken from the band's 1976 album, One More From the Road, is equally memorable ("how 'bout you"). Most of what Skynyrd did was done originally by their Southern kin the Allman Brothers Band, but Skynyrd certainly perfected the form on "Free Bird," as Southern rock prevailed for a spell in the '70s well above and beyond the Mason-Dixon line.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
(Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) 1973 MCA Masterdisc / MCA 9:18
Gold & Platinum 1979 MCA 14:09
Skynyrd's Innyrds: Greatest Hits 1989 MCA 10:07
Dick Clark's All-Time Hits, Vol. 3 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 4:41
Hard Rockin' 70s [Priority] 1991
Various Artists
Priority Records
Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991 MCA 9:09
Seventies Greatest Rock Hits, Vol. 11: Heavy Hi 1991
Various Artists
Priority Records
Rebel Rousers: Southern Rock Classics 1992
Various Artists
Rhino
No Image 1992 MCA
Classic Rock [Cema] 1992
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 9:08
Classic Rock, Vol. 1: Highway Rockers 1993
Various Artists
Priority Records
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Cabin Fever Music 9:08
Kerrang!: The Album 1994
Various Artists
9:06
Stardust: Metal, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Stardust Records
No Image 1994
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 4:55
Open Top Cars & Girls in T-Shirts, Vol. 3 1995
Various Artists
Temple
The 70's Come Alive Again 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 9:07
Frat Rock: The '70s 1995
Various Artists
Rhino
Rockin' 70's, Vol. 2 [Universal] 1996
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 9:11
Ultimate Rock 'N' Roll Collection [EMI] 1996
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music Distribution
House of Blues: Essential Southern Rock 1997
Various Artists
A&M 9:08
Rockin' Guitars 1997
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 9:05
Fast Cars & Southern Stars 1997
Various Artists
Critique Records
70's Super Groups 1997
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 4:41
Hard Rock Cafe: Classic Rock 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 9:07
Easyriders, Vol. 2 1997
Various Artists
Thump Records 10:07
Old Time Greats 1997 Repertoire 9:05
Roots of Rock: Southern Rock 1998
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / Rebound Records 4:11
Chronicles: 70's Rock Classics 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 6:14
The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd 1998 MCA 13:41
Harley Davidson Road Songs, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Capitol 9:08
Skynyrd's First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album 1998 MCA / Universal 7:26
Millennium Classic Rock Party 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 5:00
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd 1999 MCA 9:09
Outside Providence 1999
Original Soundtrack
Warner Bros. 9:09
Millennium Party [Rhino Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 5:00
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 6:00
All Time Greatest Hits 2000 Barclay / MCA 14:23
Then and Now 2000 Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 12:44
Amplified 2000
Various Artists
UTV 9:07
Skynyrd Collectybles 2000 MCA 14:58
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Realm Records 9:08
No Image 2001 Hallmark Recordings
A Year in Your Life: 1975, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 9:11
Southern Rock Classics 2002
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 12:12
Goin' South, Vol. 2 2002
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 4:42
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 3 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Ultimate Southern Rock 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 9:05
Thyrty: The 30th Anniversary Collection 2003 MCA 9:10
While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 9:10
Legends: Get It On 2003
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 8:03
Doc Rock presents Campfire Classics 2004
Various Artists
BMG International 9:08
Heavy Rock Masterpieces 2004
Various Artists
Classic Rock Legends
VH1: I Love the '70s 2004
Various Artists
Rhino 4:59
Mustang 40th Anniversary 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 9:05
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas [Box Set] 2004
Original Game Soundtrack
Geffen 9:04
'70s [Universal 2004] 2004
Various Artists
Universal / USM 3:31
Chronicles 2005 Geffen 11:09
Devil's Rejects [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 9:08
Greatest Hits 2005 Universal International 9:04
Southern Rock: Gold [2 CD] 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 9:11
Ultimate Hits: Ultimate Southern Rock 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 9:05
This Is Mullet Rock 2005
Various Artists
Dead Line Music 9:07
'70s: Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O 4:42
Family 2006 Hip-O 9:12
Gold 2006 MCA / Geffen / Universal Distribution 0:00
Ultimate Collection 2006 Universal Distribution 14:02
True Rock 2006
Various Artists
Universal International 3:39
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 8:03
Die Ultimative Rock Box 2007
Various Artists
Brunswick 3:30
Colour Collection 2007 Spectrum Music 10:09
Rock Anthems [Universal 2007] 2007
Various Artists
Universal / Universal Distribution 4:10
Rock Legends 2008 MCA 9:05
Playlist Plus 2008 Geffen 13:48
Discoveries 2008 Geffen 4:07
El Traje del Muerto 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 9:00
Legends of Rock 2009 Geffen / Universal Distribution / Universal
Total Drivetime 2010
Various Artists
Universal 3:31
Icon 2 2010 Geffen 13:41
Rock Anthems [Universal 2010] 2010
Various Artists
EMI / Universal Music TV 4:18
Gods of Guitar [Universal] 2011
Various Artists
Universal 4:20
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock Hits 2012
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 9:07
5 Classic Albums 2012 Universal Music 14:51
Delta Swamp Rock, Vol. 2:  More Sounds from the South 1968-75: At the Crossroads of Rock, Country and Soul 2012
Various Artists
Soul Jazz 7:25
Best Of 2013 Geffen 13:41
The Broadcast Archive 2017 The Broadcast Archive 13:44
100 Rock
Various Artists
Universal 9:11
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 9:10
Cool-Rock
Various Artists
Universal 3:33
No Image MCA
No Image
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 4:20
Muscle Shoals [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Original Soundtrack
Island / Republic 7:25
No Image
Various Artists
MCA
Rock & Romance Collection
Various Artists
Time Life 9:05
No Image
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 3:33
The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd Geffen 13:41
The Heart of Classic Rock [Box Set]
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 9:05