Lynyrd Skynyrd’s iconic debut album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) was released into the world on August 13, 1973, and 50 years later, it’s still one of the best albums of all time. It’s a shame that none of the band’s original members are still around to commemorate its release.
From our debut album to five decades strong, we’re celebrating fifty years of Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd. Thanks to all of you for keeping the spirit alive! pic.twitter.com/ucMKwuPHAA
(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) was recorded at Studio One Records in Doraville, Georgia throughout the spring of 1973, and was produced by frequent collaborator Al Kooper. An unassuming band from Jacksonville, Florida, who were really only together for four years after their debut album, Lynyrd Skynyrd had an unprecedented impact on American rock and roll music, and revolutionized the southern rock sound. And it all started with this album.
The band had actually been playing live for several years prior to the album’s release, and had already grown a strong regional following solely built upon their live show. With Ronnie Van Zant as the hard-driving, nose on the grindstone frontman, the rest of Lynyrd Skynyrd at the time of the album was guitarists Gary Rossington and Allen Collins, bassist Ed King, drummer Bob Burns, and Billy Powell on the keys.
Together, they spent countless hours honing their craft at the aptly named “Hell House,” a hellishly hot and buggy shack outside of Jacksonville where Lynyrd Skynyrd operated in its purest form. This is where many of their biggest songs were penned, composed, and perfected, including several on their debut album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd).
The album featured several songs that would go on to become their biggest hits, including “Tuesday’s Gone,” “Gimme Three Steps,” “Simple Man,” and of course, one of the most iconic songs ever released, regardless of genre, “Free Bird.”
Check out the whole tracklist below.
“I Ain’t the One” (Rossington, Van Zandt)
“Now, I’ll tell you plainly baby, what I plan to do Say I may be crazy, woman, but I ain’t no fool Your daddy is rich, mama, you’re overdue Now I ain’t the one, baby, been messing with you”
“Tuesday’s Gone” (Collins, Van Zandt)
“Train roll on A-many miles from my home, see I’m I’m ridin’ my blues away Tuesday, you see She had to be free, Lord But somehow I’ve got to Carry on Lord and Tuesday’s gone with the wind”
“Gimme Three Steps” (Collins, Van Zandt)
“I was scared and fearing for my life I was shaking like a leaf on a tree ‘Cause he was lean, and mean, and Big and bad, Lord, a-pointing that gun at me ‘Oh wait a minute, mister, I didn’t even kiss her Don’t want no trouble with you And I know you don’t owe me but I wish you would let me Ask one favor from you’
‘Oh won’t you give me three steps, gimme three steps, mister Gimme three steps towards the door?’”
“Simple Man” (Rossington, Van Zandt)
“Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold All that you need is in your soul And you can do this, oh, baby, if you try All that I want for you, my son, is to be satisfied
And be a simple kind of man Oh, be something you love and understand”
“Things Goin’ On” (Rossington, Van Zandt)
“Mississippi Kid” (Burns, Kopper, Van Zandt)
“Poison Whiskey” (King, Van Zandt)
“Daddy was a Cajun, baby, raised on southern land And so my kinfolks tell me, was a street-fighting man Well, they rushed him down to see the doctor Well the doctor just checked his head The only thing that was wrong with him was Johnny Walker’s Red He drank ole poison whiskey and it killed him dead”
“Free Bird” (Collins, Van Zandt)
“Bye-bye, baby, it’s been a sweet love, yeah-yeah Though this feeling I can’t change But, please, don’t take it so badly ‘Cause Lord knows I’m to blame
But, if I stay here with you, girl Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now And this bird you’ll never change”
While everybody is familiar with some of these hits, the lesser known tracks on the album are almost equally as impressive, both sonically and lyrically. The lyrics though, in my opinion, are the most underrated aspect of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s music, with several of the band members having been extremely talented songwriters.
With sonically perfected instrumentation, underrated lyricism, and the aura surrounding Lynyrd Skynyrd’s early days and short lived superstardom, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) is one of the most influential albums ever.
And as it reaches its 50th year milestone, the record, and Lynyrd Skynyrd for that matter, have undoubtedly withstood the test of time.
While Van Zant was the only band member from this album that died in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s notoriously tragic 1977 plane crash, all of the other members unfortunately passed away at various ages throughout the years, with guitarist Gary Rossington being the last living member prior to his passing at 71 years old on March 5, 2023. Although none of these fantastic musicians are still around today, their influence lives on, and can be seen in rock, country, and blues music everywhere, and their work will ultimately go down in history as some of the best rock music of all time.
(Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd) made these boys the kings of southern rock, a throne that Lynyrd Skynyrd is yet to concede to this day.