At the turn of the 60s, rock music was no longer limited to the traditional three-minute single. Since jam bands were dominating the country and progressive rock was on the horizon, not every band had to focus on having a radio hit to be successful. It was time to stretch, and these guys definitely had some leeway on these songs.
Because as classic as these songs are, they are not for the impatient. While most songs go in and out within minutes, these songs take their time, often stretching between 6 and over 9 minutes. It wasn’t always just the album cuts either. As far as most fans are concerned, these are the classic songs the band is best known for, being the staple at gigs or the one everyone flocks to on streaming services.
While they may have been hits in their own right, these tracks aren’t really meant to be sung en masse every time. On each of these tracks, the entire song feels like one long journey with the music, as you weave your way through different sections until it all comes to a gigantic climax. These may fall into the rock category, but the ambition behind these tracks is much closer to what you’ll find in classical music most of the time.
Let’s start with what has become one of the most annoying things ever shouted at a rock concert. Even if your band has absolutely nothing to do with southern rock, you will undoubtedly see somewhere shouting for Freebird every time you take the stage. And while that might bother endless musicians, it’s not like Lynyrd’s Skynyrd classic doesn’t deserve that extra accolade.
Aside from the crowd singing along with Sweet Home Alabama, it’s like having two songs for the price of one. While songs like Tuesday’s Gone take their time to unfold and tell that heartbreaking story, you get a standard breakup song in the first half only to have amazing guitar solos melt your face for the rest of the duration. Compared to the lyrics of the song, the solos are almost as if this bird was finally freed and took the last minutes of the song to fly wherever it wanted to go.
Even with the fantastic solo, there’s still plenty of dynamics behind the back half of this track, right down to Ronnie Van Zant insisting that the guitar solos be built and always played in exactly the same way. Every time you heard this song on the radio or live, you weren’t just getting a standard jam session. Tongues were just as important as vocals, and each one had the potential to destroy a crowd.