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LISTENING IN: Lynyrd’s Skynyrd’s southern exposure

In the last little while we’ve offered Dolly, the Bee Gees, and the “adult contemporary sounds” of James Taylor. Now, it’s time for a little “boogie from the south.” But not the song you might expect.

I’m often given suggestions for our hugely popular weekly video, and at the same time I’m constantly asked who my favourite artist is. While I find that impossible to answer – and have previously declared it to maybe possibly be the great Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly – my co-1A, or maybe 1B, or C, surely is Lynyrd Skynyrd.

To be honest, I’ve poked around for a suitable Skynyrd song for this spot before, but they usually tend to be in the seven- to 12-minute epic range, and even I will concede that “Free Bird” is a bit much for a Friday morning. And even if you’re not a fan of the band, you’ve probably heard “Sweet Home Alabama” a million times.

Moreover, as the infamous plane crash in 1977 literally stopped the band dead in its tracks (three band members were killed and the others severely injured), the original line-up never made it to the days of acoustic remakes or intimate TV appearances that often populate our offerings.

But there is this: a British TV performance from 1975 of “Call Me the Breeze,” a song written by J.J. Cale, but which Skynyrd grabbed in a stranglehold and made its own. It is actually my personal favourite, a blazing rocker that showcases the powerhouse vocals of Ronnie (“Mr. Breeze”) Van Zandt and Billy Powell’s riveting honky tonk piano, the latter the underrated ingredient in Skynyrd’s sound that made the Jacksonville, Fla., outfit the best southern rock band ever (sorry, Allman afficionados).

Sadly, the life of Van Zandt (and the others) was cut short in the crash, leaving fans to wonder what might yet have been if the original line-up had remained intact (several years after the crash, the band – named after their high school gym teacher Leonard Skinner – was revived with some of the original members and Van Zandt’s younger brother Johnny taking his place. A third brother, Donnie, it might be noted was a guitarist in 38 Special).

I’m also sometimes asked what band I regret never having seen in person. And to that I have no doubt – simply watch exhibit A below.

Have a favourite song you’d like hear/watch/share? Let me know at baginski@travelindustrytoday.com. No promises, but I’ll try.

Lyrics

Call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
I ain’t got me nobody
I don’t carry me no load

Ain’t no change in the weather
Ain’t no changes in me
Well there ain’t no change in the weather
Ain’t no changes in me
And I ain’t hidin’ from nobody
Nobody’s hidin’ from me
Oh, that’s the way its supposed to be

[Guitar solo]

Well I got that green light baby
I got to keep movin’ on
Well, I got that green light baby
I got to keep movin’ on
Well I might go out to California
Might go down to Georgia
I don’t know

[Piano solo]

Well I dig you Georgia peaches
Makes me feel right at home
Well now I dig you Georgia peaches
Makes me feel right at home
But I don’t love me no one woman
So, I can’t stay in Georgia long

Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
Well now they call me the breeze
I keep blowin’ down the road
I ain’t got me nobody
I don’t carry me no load

Oooh, Mr. Breeze

First published at Travel Industry Today

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