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But I don't even know any Skynyrd!
November 5, 2005 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Play some Synyrd. The song. The t-shirt. The angry reply. Yet 1,120 results on Google and still no answer. Where did it come from? A movie? A book? A comedy sketch? Or was it just so common for people to request that Skynyrd be played that the call became ubiquitous?
posted by afroblanca to Media & Arts (23 answers total)
 
Jeez I've been using that so long I can't remember where it came from but it did indeed come from some comedy sketch I saw..pretty sure. Saturday Night Live maybe? I'm very curious to see an answer to this. Good question. Wait!! Was it Spinal Tap? When they play in the Hollywood Bowl and there are like 10 people there...does someone in the audience yell out "Freebird"?
posted by spicynuts at 4:29 PM on November 5, 2005


I totally would love to know the answer to this. Now, is it just Free Bird or any Skynyrd? Now, I'm not one to argue with a funny T-shirt, but I always thought it was just related to Free Bird, and the fact that it was a Skynyrd song was distinctly secondary.
posted by boaz at 4:35 PM on November 5, 2005


Rock's Oldest Joke: Yelling 'Freebird!' In a Crowded Theater: it's more speculation than an answer, but it's still pretty interesting.
posted by apple scruff at 4:53 PM on November 5, 2005


according to wfmu, shouting the request "freebird" began, appropriately enough, at skynyrd concerts.
posted by neda at 4:55 PM on November 5, 2005


From apple scruff's link:
[Johnny] Van Zant has a confession: His wife persuaded him to see Cher in Jacksonville a couple of years ago, and he couldn't resist yelling "Freebird!" himself. "My wife is going, 'Stop! Stop!' " he recalls, laughing. "I embarrassed the hell out of her."
That alone made this thread worthwhile.
posted by boaz at 5:02 PM on November 5, 2005 [1 favorite]


I once saw The Handsome Family play an outdoor show at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some jackass frat boy yelled out, "Freebird!," and Rennie Sparks actually stopped the song they had just started and scolded the guy - something along the lines of, "You should be ashamed of yourself. Your parents paid good money to send you to college, and that's all you can come up with? Shut the fuck up." She seemed genuinely pissed. It just made me love The Handsome Family even more.

Also, at that same show, I gave Brett Sparks a Kleenex.
posted by Dr. Wu at 5:07 PM on November 5, 2005


Earlier Metafilter discussion on apple scruff's link. a notable thread if for no other reason than it gave us It's Raining Florence Henderson
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:13 PM on November 5, 2005


Before "Free Bird" it was common to hear people calling out for "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers.

Something about those epic Southern rock tunes with extended guitar soloage, I suppose.
posted by First Post at 6:54 PM on November 5, 2005


My brother, who has played in several 'cover' bands in the last 30 years has mentioned this unimaginative yet persistent form of heckling.
Y'see, in this culture it's funny to appear to be drunk and stupid and enjoying yourself despite other's discomfort.
posted by dkippe at 7:01 PM on November 5, 2005


Before "Free Bird" it was common to hear people calling out for "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers.

Zappa's band used to get this all the time. At one point they got a singer who happened to know it already, so the rest of the band learned the song and they thereafter did a smokin' version of the tune. People started calling for it for real.
posted by kindall at 7:18 PM on November 5, 2005


Before "Free Bird" it was common to hear people calling out for "Whipping Post" by the Allman Brothers.

After someone yelled "Whipping Post" at a Frank Zappa concert (!), he had his band learn. It appears on Does Humor Belong in Music?

(I guess these other bands would answer "No" to this question.)
posted by timeistight at 7:20 PM on November 5, 2005


Holy crap, they played it really fast. (iTMS)
posted by emelenjr at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2005


Wasn't there ever a time when people actually wanted to hear Freebird? I'd always assumed that people started calling it out as a joke, under inappropriate circumstances, after they'd gotten sick of people calling for it, genuinely, as a request.
posted by scarabic at 8:13 PM on November 5, 2005


As an interesting sidenote, we have the same joke in Brazil, whose origins are most likely completely unrelated to the American version. It works exactly the same, but instead of Skynard, people call "Toca Raul!" (Play some Raul), in between songs. Raul is Raul Seixas, a quasi-mythical figure of Brazilian rock from the 60's and 70's.

It is almost impossible to go to a rock concert in Brazil where someone doesn't yell this. I don't think the joke was "imported and localized" from the US, looks like one of those collective unconscious - mythical - archetypal cultural events that are so intriguing in the history of pop culture.
posted by falameufilho at 11:02 PM on November 5, 2005


What the fuck people?!

What song is it you want to hear?

I heard it then....
posted by spilon at 11:18 PM on November 5, 2005


No answer, but two anecdotes about this phenomenon.

First, I saw Built to Spill several years ago, and when the inevitable shout of "Freebird" was finally heard, the band immediately launched into what has to be one of the most spot-on covers of the song ever played, right down to the guitar solos. Best part of the show, hands down.

Second, I've heard a recording of a David Cross stand-up show where he comes out on stage as a folk singer named Ainsley McTree. He then proceeds to improvise a series of terrible and hilarious folk songs, just waiting for someone to shout "Freebird". It doesn't take long, and when an audience member finally makes the fateful request, he stops playing and brings the kid onstage, and while "Proud to be an American" blasts over the speakers, Cross congratulates him for being the one millionth asshole to shout Freebird at a concert. Funny stuff.
posted by saladin at 6:35 AM on November 6, 2005


In the future, people will express their appreciation or feign appreciation for any performance, lecture, whatever, by clapping their hands and yelling "freebird." No one will know what Freebird is. Sort of like how we now yell "bravo" at female performers.
posted by Eothele at 9:31 AM on November 6, 2005


The Canadian (or Ontarian) equivalent is, or was, "play some Hip" (i.e., The Tragically Hip). Or at least this is what I've been told.
posted by kindall at 11:26 AM on November 6, 2005


Interesting. Lots of theories, no answer yet. Good articles, though.

One thing that surprises me is the perception of, "Play some Skynyrd" as a sort of "heckle." I always thought that it was something people said because they thought they were being funny. However, I got the impression that it was supposed to be "cultural-reference-funny," which doesn't fit, since nobody really seems to know what it's a cultural reference TO. Thus, it makes more sense as a "heckle." The Chicago DJ story would support this idea.

Either way, thanks for the answers, and please keep 'em coming!
posted by afroblanca at 11:51 AM on November 6, 2005


A long, long time ago, when I used to play in a blues band, when went through a period where every bar we played had someone wanting to hear The Rodeo Song. And of someone was always yelling "Rock and Roll". I think some people just want to get involved with the performance.

Of course, it may just be that these bands should play some Skynard.
posted by timeistight at 2:25 PM on November 6, 2005


It is equivalent to "Play something you know!" It is a heckle and not appreciated by musicians. It is shouted by unimaginative wanna-bes who wish they could be onstage, but they're not, so they inject themselves into the presentation any way they can, even pathetically, if need be, by yelling inanities.

Concert-goers and music-lovers - please, STFU about Freebird and, while we're at it, Sweet Home Alabama and Stairway to Heaven.
posted by wsg at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2005


One thing that surprises me is the perception of, "Play some Skynyrd" as a sort of "heckle." I always thought that it was something people said because they thought they were being funny. However, I got the impression that it was supposed to be "cultural-reference-funny," which doesn't fit, since nobody really seems to know what it's a cultural reference TO. Thus, it makes more sense as a "heckle."

I don't understand this thread. Can't a heckle be something people said because they thought they were being funny? Isn't that often the goal of a heckle? It seems to be on the same level of funny as people here saying "I for one welcome our __ overlords" - it doesn't take any thought and it's been repeated 85 million-trillion times.

As spilon points out, Van Zandt asks the question "what song is it you want to hear?" on the famous live version of "Freebird". The rest is heckling history. So wouldn't that make it a cultural reference to that recording?

And I don't think it's really become an abstraction yet, because I think most people still know the song (may be showing my age here).

I've never heard the heckle "Play some Skynard", but I'd imagine it's just a variation of "Freebird" - someone who wanted to say something different than just yelling "Freebird", so they said "Play some Skynard". It may be a simplistic answer, but unless I missed something here, there's really nothing to "get".
posted by hellbient at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2005


Can't a heckle be something people said because they thought they were being funny? Isn't that often the goal of a heckle? It seems to be on the same level of funny as people here saying "I for one welcome our __ overlords"

It seems that musicians perceive "Play some Skynyrd" as an insult and a disruption, wheras "I for one welcome..." is just annoying and ignorable.

As spilon points out, Van Zandt asks the question "what song is it you want to hear?" on the famous live version of "Freebird".

Wow! Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not familiar with that version of the song, and thus I totally didn't get why spilon linked to that Amazon.com page. His comment went right over my 'fro.

And I don't think it's really become an abstraction yet, because I think most people still know the song (may be showing my age here).

I've never heard the heckle "Play some Skynard"

This may indeed be a generational thing. Thanks for clueing me in.
posted by afroblanca at 11:24 PM on November 27, 2005


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