The other night at happy hour Johnny and I were grooving to the background music at the pub when that Kid Rock song “All Summer Long” came on. For two reasons, I happen to know all the words to this song. The first is that several people thought the couplet “And we were trying different things, And we were smoking funny things” was lyrical genius and should be made the chorus of a song. This is ridiculous…so naturally I had to learn what else made the songwriting cut into this magnum opus. The second, and possibly better, reason is that in this song Mr. Rock samples Sweet Home Alabama, which is a fantastic song and whose groove always makes me want to dance…badly. Our little band of rapscallions broke out into discussion of what our favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs were, as any group of classic rock fans would be wont to do.
So, it was no surprise to me that the next day while at the library switching out the CDs I had borrowed, I was compelled to choose the Skynyrd 30 year retrospective. I tossed Disc 1 in the ghetto-rigged cd player I have in my car and proceeded to rock out southern style through the first 13 tracks.
Track 14 (the final cut on Disc 1) came on as I was sitting in the parking garage of the train station, waiting to catch my train into NYC for class. I had arrived a touch early and had some time to kill so figured I’d let the disc run out, at full volume, before buying my tickets.
Track 14 is Freebird.
I nodded my head along with the first few notes then automatically, looked around quickly and halved the volume. Sitting there, I couldn’t really understand why I had done this, Freebird is a good song, and one I have known since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Why would I be embarrassed to be caught listening to it.
The answer, as far as I can see it, is that listening to Freebird has become one of those things that makes classic rock listeners (especially those who aren’t old enough to have heard the music when it first came out) caricatures of themselves. It was the same reason that I felt ridiculous buying PBR by the case, in the middle of a hipster neighborhood while wearing slim cut jeans (other than the fact that buying terrible beer should always elicit shame, even if it is the most practical solution, which it was). In that instance I was a caricature of a 20-something.
Sure, these stereotypes come about because to a certain degree they are true. And because, to a certain degree, they are ridiculous. They are like pieces of a mister potato head that people can affect at any point to be X kind of person when they aren’t. So maybe the reason it felt embarrassing to be actually doing them was that it implied that I was faking something. Maybe that was it…or maybe not.
Either way, I really own those pants because I think they hide my thunder thighs, my new address is really in that neighborhood because its fun and convenient and the house rocked and I still think Freebird is still an f-ing awesome song. That’s who I am and I’m going to own every inch of it.
…I’m still ashamed of the PBR though. Just a touch.