Lynyrd Skynyrd has been creating music for the better part of three decades now, and their discography is filled with songs about love and geography's affect on love. While lovelorn separation is a common theme in rock music, Lynyrd Skynyrd seems to have a special reverence for love's relationship with time and space. Three of Lynyrd Skynyrd's most famous songs ("Sweet Home Alabama," "Free Bird" and "Tuesday's Gone") take on the love-space continuum, and they all add their own ideas and personality to the conversation.
"Sweet Home Alabama"
Lynyrd Skynyrd's most famous tune by far, "Sweet Home Alabama" is perhaps the most obvious example of the band mixing love with location. When you buy Lynyrd Skynyrd tickets online, you probably sing the song so loud and proud at the show that the lyrics never stopped to enter your conscious mind. But it's illuminating to read the lyrics like a poem, if possible. The chorus of the song "Sweet home Alabama/ Where the skies are so blue/ Sweet Home Alabama/ Lord, I'm coming home to you" isn't all that compelling as far as lyrics go, but it certainly beams with local pride.
The opening stanza, however, introduces a theme in Lynyrd's work that will reverberate many times down the line. It reads: "Big wheels keep on turning/ Carry me home to see my kin/ Singing songs about the Southland/ I miss Alabamee once again/ And I think its a sin, yes." The "big wheels" that the opening lines refer to might mean anything from a river boat's paddles, to a bus's tires, but from the other songs in the Lynyrd discography, we know that they're talking about the wheels on a train.
Free Bird is mostly known for its long, long, long guitar and keyboard solo, but the lyrics keep with the theme of love's sometimes heartbreaking geography. The song starts out: "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?/ For I must be traveling on, now, 'cause there's too many places I've gotta see./ But if I stayed here with you, girl, things just couldn't be the same./ 'Cause I'm as free as a bird now, And this bird you cannot change."
The song talks about leaving someone you love for the freedom of the road, the freedom of making your own life somewhere else. The mode of transportation isn't precisely clear, although with the analogy of the bird it hints at plane travel, something ironically tragic considering the history of the band and the plane crash that left it in shambles.
"Tuesday's Gone," a slow, rambling, sorrowful song, seems to pull together all the strings of what Lynyrd Skynyrd is about - mainly, a lover's need to leave for somewhere else. The song begins with "Train roll on, on down the line,/ Won't you please take me far away?/ Now I feel the wind blow outside my door,/ Means I'm, I'm leaving my woman at home, Lordy/ Tuesday's gone with the wind./ Oh, my baby's gone with the wind." You've got trains, the winds of change and the character Tuesday, who represents fleeting love and the eventuality of loss.
Tuesday, the day of the week, comes and goes, like the wind. It's also interesting to note that the narrator is traveling away from home, as opposed to back to home, as is the case with "Sweet Home Alabama." The next time you see Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert try to keep track of who is leaving who in some of their most important songs.
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