I listen a lot of music. If I’m not in a business meeting, there’s a good chance my cheap Sony headphones are covering my ears,
channeling the sweet sounds of a wide range of music, from Luke Combs to Linkin Park, from Don Henley to Dierks Bentley.
I recently got on a Lynyrd Skynyrd kick. As a kid of the 90s, I grew up in this band, not because it was a new band, but because my parents listened to them when they were teenagers. I know the songs we all know.
This chord progression in “Tuesday’s Gone” and the introductions to “Free Bird” and “Simple Man” are all easily recognizable. As an Alabama native who attended the University of Alabama, I have heard “Sweet Home Alabama” more times than I can count. I heard it once played live by a cover band in the lobby of a hotel room in Cancun.
It’s even my ringtone.
One of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s songs recently fell on my playlist one day, and admittedly I had never heard of it.
Titled “All I Can Do Is Write About This,” it caught my eye the moment Ronnie Van Zant opened his mouth. I find inspiration in writing descriptive songs. I can’t play a single chord on a guitar or beat rhythmically on a snare drum, but I do enjoy learning the songwriting process. I talk about it regularly with a few friends who are almost as old-fashioned as me.
The song’s message is clear: to disapprove of the paving of the United States by portraying the natural beauty of this country. It is a message to slow down “progress” and appreciate what is already there.
I can almost hear the pain in Van Zant’s voice, the plea. In part he sings:
“I’m not trying to destroy a big city
But the things they write about us is just a bore
Well you can take a boy out of old Dixieland, Lord
But you’ll never take a boy’s old Dixie “
As I got older, it became clear to me which writing topics intrigue me the most. They include the endless symbolism that the antlers provide, of bygone eras that seem to fade into distant memories, the experiences of the elderly, peculiar dogs, and, well, the words of Skynyrd.
When I covered football in high school, I discovered that I am no longer captivated by the 53-yard flag roads or the goal line stands, but rather by how the former head coach is enjoying his retirement. , which the former star quarterback is doing now that he’s finished college.
Guess I want those words to have significance beyond the life of a thin, yellowing newspaper page. And I think that’s the point Van Zant was trying to make in this song. The chorus, in part:
“And Lord, I can’t make any change
All I can do is write them down in a song “
So for this season of life, I guess I have Lynyrd Skynyrd to thank for my inspiration.
I can’t make you care about these natural and historic areas, the way a 97 year old WWII veteran replaced his own water heater, the personality behind the football coach you want to fire , plans for a longtime children’s librarian for retirement.
All I can do is write about it.
Gary Lloyd is the author of six books and a contributing writer for the Cahaba Sun.