Dolly Parton Sings The Hell Outta “Free Bird” Alongside Gary Rossington And Artimus Pyle For Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute Album

Dolly Parton country music
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Play “Free Bird,” Dolly

Dolly Parton’s Rockstar era is continuing today, because her cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” is out everywhere as part of the Anthems – Honoring The Music of Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute album.

Artimus Pyle and his band decided to do the project in honor of Lynyrd Skynyrd, which Pyle was the original drummer for. He formally left the band for good in 1991, and he is the last surviving member after legendary Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington passed away in 2023.

The tracklist for the new album features artists like the aforementioned, legendary Dolly Parton and Ronnie Dunn alongside Pyle and his band singing some of Skynyrd’s biggest hits, in an effort to keep the memories – and the music – of Skynyrd alive.

In an interview with Garden & Gun, Pyle says that obviously, “Free Bird” is the “big fish” in terms of coveted songs to cover, and Dolly got her pick at what she wanted to sing (duh):

“‘Free Bird’ is the big fish, and if Dolly Parton wants the big fish, she gets the big fish. Everyone else picked after that. I reached out to Gary Rossington about his iconic slide part on that song.

His first reaction was, ‘I’d love to help you out on the album, but I’m not in good health.’ I said, ‘Gary, Dolly is singing ‘Free Bird.’’ He said, ‘I feel a lot better now.’ I’m so glad he was able to do it.”

A smart man, indeed…

In fact, Pyle said Dolly’s rendition was so good that he “cried like a baby” after hearing the first verse:

“Then I’m in her studio, and Dolly said, ‘Let me play you my vocal.’ I sat down beside her at the console, and when she came in on the first verse, tears just flowed out of my eyes. I cried like a baby.

Then usually when the fast part comes on, it’s just the guitar. I made the signal to cut and said, ‘Dolly I’ve heard that part a million times. Thank you for what you’ve done. I’m sure you got things to do.’ And she says, ‘Well, Artimus, I put stuff in there too!’

I’m like Oh my god I just cut off Dolly Parton. I’m listening, and on her cut, Dolly is scatting! She’s got her backup singers putting on a choir of angels, and she’s ad-libbing, building up, and I’m just overwhelmed.”

Pyle also explained that not long before Rossington passed away, he texted Pyle and said he loved Dolly’s rendition of “Free Bird” and thought Ronnie Van Zandt, founding member and lead vocalist for Skynyrd, would’ve “given it a thumbs up.”

He added that everyone in the band always loved Dolly, and clearly, it was an honor to have her be part of this project.

Dolly covered it herself for her aforementioned Rockstar album, but hearing her with the late Gary Rossington and Artimus Pyle backing her for this specific tribute album is just incredible.

Give it a listen, Dolly Parton don’t miss…

“Sweet Home Alabama” featuring the legendary Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn:

The Rockstar version:

Anthems – Honoring The Music Of Lynyrd Skynyrd Track Listing:
1. I Know A Little – Micheal Ray
2. Sweet Home Alabama – Ronnie Dunn
3. Simple Man – Sammy Hagar
4. Needle And The Spoon – Lindsay Ell
5. The Ballad Of Curtis Loew – Chris Janson
6. Workin’ For MCA – Lee Brice
7. That Smell – Jerrod Niemann
8. Gimme Three Steps – Marty Raybon
9. Call Me The Breeze – Billy Ray Cyrus
10. Saturday Night Special – Warren Haynes
11. The Hunt – Artimus Pyle Band
12. What’s Your Name – LOCASH
13. Freebird – Dolly Parton

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock