Friday, February 04, 2005

Giving the bird

I play live music, and at almost every performance, eventually someone in the audience yells, "'Free Bird'!'", which is the name of a popular song by the 1970s Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's an odd custom, one that shows no sign of going out of style, even though the ditty in question is more than 30 years old.

I think I can safely speak for the profession when I say that musicians find this maddening. Lately my group, the World's Greatest Lovers, has begun playing in response the song's rocking bridge--what our pedal steel player Adam Davis refers to as The Wankfest. But this seems only to confuse people.

What is a better response? I've heard that Phish used to perform a barbershop quartet version; this is something to consider. One of the best ideas I've heard came from Adam, who suggested that on these occasions we perform Stravinsky's "Firebird."

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