I've been made fun of, openly gawked at, and called a liar when I tell people who've met me more than once that I am, in fact, a Skynyrd fan. Because Skynyrd is a "gateway" band, I also have a special place in my heart for Southern rockers like ZZ Top, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special and most of the bands of that era that include the word "Brothers" in their name.
Regardless of what you think about Skynyrd's music, or its fans, you have to respect the band's "to-hell-with-change" philosophy. Bon Jovi cut his hair, Bono started wearing stunner shades, but Skynyrd is still playing largely the same set list as the band toured on in 1975. Onstage the band is proudly immune to fashion trends. Long scraggly hair, jeans and simple shirts are still the norm. In other words, Nuthin' Fancy. The dress code underscores that Skynyrd is purely about the music. This means over-the-top guitar solos and a hint of country twang. It's about how "Freebird" can literally give you chills sometimes and the opening chords of "Gimme Three Steps" means the party's officially started.
Skynyrd represents a certain upbringing. One where your parents didn't have to go to college for you to still consider them the smartest people you knew and where you grew up knowing in the back of your mind that money was tight, but still thought you were doing just fine.
My dad listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd and I started listening to them because I wanted to grow up to be like my dad. Listening to "Double Trouble" brings back memories of when I tried to memorize snowmobile parts and take an interest in NASCAR and all things Bobcat and John Deere. Eventually, I gave up and went back to loving shoes, skiing and boys who played soccer - not ones who drove around on 4-wheelers - but Skynyrd stuck.
From "Simple Man" to "Tuesday's Gone" to "Swamp Music" I love them all. And I will continue loving them. I'll be that person at Les Schwab this Thursday wearing a sundress and Chanel shades screaming "Freebird" and singing the words to every song.
5 pm gates open, 6:30pm show, Thursday July 10, Les Schwab Amphitheater. 322-9383 All ages, $37 general admission, $70 reserved seating, tickets available at the Ticket Mill 318-5457.