I don’t know how it happened. It all took place so quick. But all I can do is hand it to you, and your latest trick.-Dire Straits, “Your Latest Trick”
Those are the words I should have mentioned to my ex-wife (we were married at the time) and her friends when they somehow talked me into buying tickets and going to see Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert, along with 38 Special and Hank Williams, Jr. There I was, in a van with 8 other people, heading to Baltimore to watch the show. To say I didn’t know what to expect is to understate the obvious. I’d heard the music, even liked some of the songs, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be seeing the band in concert.
So, I observed. As expected, there were more than a few Confederate flags around the arena and on T-shirts, but there was no static and there were no questions. For as far as my eye could see, I was the only “raisin in a big bowl of rice,” other than those folks who looked like me working concessions. I wonder what they were thinking when they happened to see me. Needless to say I was on the watch. But I had nothing to worry about; the people were there to see Skynyrd and have a good time. And by my account, that’s what happened.
As for the show, it was pretty good overall. 38 Special was the opening act, and they did fine in that thankless spot. Somehow, Lynyrd Skynyrd went on next; I would have thought they would be closing the show. I enjoyed their performance as they ran through their big hits and well-known songs, along with a few I had never heard before. The audience was at a fever pitch from the first notes, and needless to say, sung along with abandon when certain songs were playing (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Tuesday’s Gone,” and “Free Bird,” which closed out their set). They also sang along heartily to “Simple Man,” today’s Morning Groove. Whatever momentum Skynyrd had built up dissipated quickly when Hank Jr. got on stage. He came out in a Baltimore Ravens jersey, and sang “All My Rowdy Friends,” which were his high points. After that, it went downhill from there. In fact, the group I was with started walking out before his set was done.
“Simple Man” is one of those album-rock staples; you can hear it on classic rock radio plenty, but it was never a single. From their debut album Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, it was one of several songs to be loved dearly by the band’s fans, but never received any chart action. Ask any fan of southern rock and they will tell you that this is not just one of the great bands of the genre and one of the great albums; it just might be the greatest band and album.
A little out of the box for this blog, but I had to tell the concert story at some point. As always, thanks for reading and listening.